Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2014 April 10
Mars, Ceres, Vesta
Image Credit & Copyright: Tunç Tezel (TWAN)
Explanation: That bright, ruddy star you’ve recently noticed rising just after sunset isn’t a star at all. That’s Mars, the Red Planet. Mars is now near its 2014 opposition (April 8) and closest approach (April 14), looping through the constellation Virgo opposite the Sun in planet Earth’s sky. Clearly outshining bluish Spica, alpha star of Virgo, Mars is centered in this labeled skyview from early April, that includes two other solar system worlds approaching their opposition. On the left, small and faint asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres are seen near star Tau Virginis. But you’ll just have to imagine NASA’s Dawn spacecraft cruising between the small worlds. Having left Vesta in September of 2012, Dawn’s ion engine has been steadily driving it to match orbits with Ceres, scheduled to arrive there in February 2015. Of course, you can also look near Mars for the Moon opposite the Sun in Earth’s sky on the night of April 14/15 … and see a total lunar eclipse.
Quirinalia and The Feast of Fools
Quirinalia was a first fruits festival that honored Quirinus, the name given by the Romans to the deified Romulus. As a divinity, Quirinus ranked as one of Rome’s most important patrons, along with Mars, Jupiter and Juno.
Early Rome was divided into 30 curiae, each of which had its own day in February for the performing of the Fornacalia, or first-fruits offering to Ceres of toasted emmer-wheat. As the city expanded, the curiae were displaced by the new divisions known as “tibus.” As a result, many people did not know which curiae they belonged to. Because of the confusion they were allowed to make the sacrifice on the Quirinalia, which came to be called “The Feast of Fools.”
Virgo has many crisis elements imbedded in its nature because it is stage 6 of a 12-step zodiacal process. Therefore, as this sign eventually morphs into Libra — the halfway point of the zodiacal circle — there is a need to eliminate personal non-essentials across the board as a kind of internal purification before beginning the more collective, universal process symbolized by the last six signs of the zodiac. Right now the Last Quarter Sun-Moon Phase (energizing 6 degrees of Virgo and Gemini at 2:36AM) arrives with a possible intention to stir up worries and turmoil in your mind — especially concerning dietary and health matters. Nevertheless, the key at any quarter moon cycle is to be strong-willed enough to cut through whatever apparent obstacles appear to be blocking your path ahead. And at the Last Quarter Sun-Moon square of 90-degrees, there can actually be a higher mental and even spiritual adjustment that needs to take place. Adding to today’s possible crisis environment is the arrival of the largest asteroid — Ceres — in Virgo (3:21AM) for the first time since its last transit here from early November 2008 to early August 2009. Many professional astrology researchers believe that Ceres — the ancient goddess of corn and cereals — shares, with Mercury, a co-rulership of the sign of Virgo. Through enormous amounts of research, this appears to be true and in a very deep, soulful manner. While Ceres entering Virgo this morning — a cycle lasting until November 3 — can be enormously supportive for mother-daughter relationships, food and nutritional matters, and for increasing production in your main fields of expertise, it can also be a catalyst for the difficulties in these same areas of life. Reading and research are also top priorities since Mercury trines Pluto (7:53AM) while Mercury also forms an illuminating parallel with the Sun (4:57PM). The several hours prior to a Moon-Venus trine in air signs (9:46PM) constitute a great boost for love bonds, the creative arts, and social activities. However, this Moon-Venus contact also starts a very long void lunar uncertainty cycle that lasts for 30+ hours until 4:34AM on Friday, August 30. (Note to readers: All times are calculated for Pacific Daylight Time. Be sure to adjust all times according to your own local time so the alignments noted above will be exact for your location.)
Deities of the Fields
Gods and Goddesses of the Early Harvest
By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide
When Lammastide rolls around, the fields are full and fertile. Crops are abundant, and the late summer harvest is ripe for the picking. This is the time when the first grains are threshed, apples are plump in the trees, and gardens are overflowing with summer bounty. In nearly every ancient culture, this was a time of celebration of the agricultural significance of the season. Because of this, it was also a time when many gods and goddesses were honored. These are some of the many deities who are connected with this earliest harvest holiday.
- Adonis (Assyrian): Adonis is a complicated god who touched many cultures. Although he’s often portrayed as Greek, his origins are in early Assyrian religion. Adonis was a god of the dying summer vegetation. In many stories, he dies and is later reborn, much like Attis and Tammuz.
- Attis (Phrygean): This lover of Cybele went mad and castrated himself, but still managed to get turned into a pine tree at the moment of his death. In some stories, Attis was in love with a Naiad, and jealous Cybele killed a tree (and subsequently the Naiad who dwelled within it), causing Attis to castrate himself in despair. Regardless, his stories often deal with the theme of rebirth and regeneration.
- Ceres (Roman): Ever wonder why crunched-up grain is called cereal? It’s named for Ceres, the Roman goddess of the harvest and grain. Not only that, she was the one who taught lowly mankind how to preserve and prepare corn and grain once it was ready for threshing. In many areas, she was a mother-type goddess who was responsible for agricultural fertility.
- Dagon (Semitic): Worshipped by an early Semitic tribe called the Amorites, Dagon was a god of fertility and agriculture. He’s also mentioned as a father-deity type in early Sumerian texts and sometimes appears as a fish god. Dagon is credited with giving the Amorites the knowledge to build the plough.
- Demeter (Greek): The Greek equivalent of Ceres, Demeter is often linked to the changing of the seasons. She is often connected to the image of the Dark Mother in late fall and early winter. When her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter’s grief caused the earth to die for six months, until Persephone’s return
- Lugh (Celtic): Lugh was known as a god of both skill and the distribution of talent. He is sometimes associated with midsummer because of his role as a harvest god, and during the summer solstice the crops are flourishing, waiting to be plucked from the ground at Lughnasadh.
- Mercury (Roman): Fleet of foot, Mercury was a messenger of the gods. In particular, he was a god of commerce and is associated with the grain trade. In late summer and early fall, he ran from place to place to let everyone know it was time to bring in the harvest. In Gaul, he was considered a god not only of agricultural abundance but also of commercial success.
- Neper (Egyptian): This androgynous grain deity became popular in Egypt during times of starvation. He later was seen as an aspect of Osiris, and part of the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
- Parvati (Hindu): Parvati was a consort of the god Shiva, and although she does not appear in Vedic literature, she is celebrated today as a goddess of the harvest and protector of women in the annual Gauri Festival.
- Pomona (Roman): This apple goddess is the keeper of orchards and fruit trees. Unlike many other agricultural deities, Pomona is not associated with the harvest itself, but with the flourishing of fruit trees. She is usually portrayed bearing a cornucopia or a tray of blossoming fruit.
- Tammuz (Sumerian): This Sumerian god of vegetation and crops is often associated with the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, Deities, The Sabbats
Tags: Amorite, Attis, Ceres, Demeter, Egypt, God, Roman, Roman mythology
Easy does it! Yesterday’s New Moon can help you build forward momentum in your main fields of expertise, and via arts, crafts and hobbies. However, the recent Saturn shift from reverse to direct is still hovering over humanity and societal experience like a massive shadow. The truth is that using an astrological ephemeris or data list of celestial motion reveals that Saturn is at the same degree and minute of Scorpio (4 degrees and 49+ minutes of arc) since this past Saturday and it remains right at this sky placement over the next two or three days. Therefore, the greater perspective is that Saturn is no longer retrograde, but it also isn’t really dashing ahead anywhere for the time being. Thus, patience is a cardinal and cosmic virtue. In the meantime, the Moon in Cancer finally runs out of void-ness at 3:49AM PDT by entering warmhearted Leo for the next 2+ days. The lunar orb makes its monthly union with Vesta (6:37AM PDT) — offering a potential encouragement for finding ways to pad your bank account and increase the value of your investments. A Sun-Mercury Inferior Conjunction occurs at 11:42AM PDT (activating 18 degrees of Cancer, the same degree where Pluto was discovered on February 18, 1930 by Comet Clyde Tombaugh looking at photographic plates from his telescope in Flagstaff, Arizona). A Sun-Mercury Inferior Conjunction is an astronomical term describing a line-up in the solar system of the Earth, Mercury in reverse, and the Sun — with Mercury at its closest approach to our planet. The fact that this solar-mercurial rendezvous occurs on the Pluto discovery point can ratchet up psychic storms and battles of the will around the Earth and within humanity. Nevertheless, try to keep an open mind for bright ideas that are streaking through your consciousness like fiery meteors. Your productivity IQ can soar — thanks to the monthly union of the Moon with the largest asteroid Ceres (7:13PM PDT). Review your dietary and nutritional needs. Reach out with a nurturing touch to beleaguered maternal figures.
Ceres — the largest asteroid — at 20 degrees of Gemini shifts from being retrograde to direct (12:50AM PST). All Ceres themes — productivity, agriculture and farming, gardening, Mother Nature, food, diet and nutrition, mother-daughter and parent-child ties, scarcity and famine, child neglect and abuse — are pronounced in importance throughout the day. While Ceres seems to hog the spotlight, an inspirational, 72-degree link from this asteroid to Pallas (2:14AM PST) and a glowing Moon-Venus parallel (4:49PM PST) can lift your spirits and amplify your skills as a savvy problem-solver. However, the Moon in Scorpio becomes void at 4:32AM PST and this limbo condition lasts until 7:46AM PST when the lunar orb enters fiery, enthusiastic Sagittarius. The monthly change of Moon signs — from Scorpio to Sagittarius — is usually the most intense and potentially disturbing of all the lunar zodiacal shifts. Therefore, be on your best behavior and handle sensitive relationships with kid gloves this morning. The Mars-Neptune union at 3 degrees of Pisces (12:57PM PST) and the Mercury-Saturn parallel (9:43PM PST) are the major events in the second half of the day. The Mars-Neptune rapport can increase your personal magnetism, idealism and charisma, but it also contains a shadow side related to irrational and fanatical expressions. Mercury-Saturn in parallel formation — similar to a conjunction in the zodiac — is great for people who work with logic and common sense, but it can also signify potential delays and stalemates. Get ready for emotional and romantic fireworks tomorrow as Venus, Mars and Juno go on the warpath.
Reminiscing about the good old days often occurs instinctively during the monthly lunar transit in Cancer. This is because this sign signifies the past, family ties, and ancestral roots. Look through photo albums, the basement or attic for long-lost keepsakes and memorabilia. Healing forces are back on the march as the Moon forms a flowing trine with Chiron in water signs (9:32AM PST). Don’t let your overall productivity decline as the Sun makes a frictional, 135-degree tie with Ceres (2:52PM PST) while Venus makes an off-kilter, 150-degree link to Ceres (9:18PM PST). Cooking, baking and preparing your garden for the growing season are emphasized throughout the day. Learn more about recent economic and market trends in order to increase the value of your investments as Mercury makes a trine to Vesta (6:25PM PST). Sisterhood and fellowship gatherings are promoted by the same alignment. Let your spiritual willpower and mental concentration guide you as Mercury parallels Pluto (6:50PM PST). Revelations abound later on when the Sun forms a supportive, 60-degree alliance with lightning-bringer Uranus (8:47PM PST). Start preparing for Vesta making a station and going direct in Gemini as well as a potent Full Moon — both happening on Saturday.