Mars Stands Still

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Mars Stands Still

The planet Mars is ready to shift gears. It’s been driving in reverse since the end of October — moving backward compared to its usual motion across the sky. Today, it’ll put on the brakes and stand still. Over the coming days, it’ll shift back into drive and slowly resume its normal eastward path against the background of stars.

In astrology, the time a planet is in reverse is usually considered a bad sign — a time of disruption. And in astrology’s early days, that was understandable. It was hard to explain a celestial body’s reverse gear as anything but a disruption in the order of the heavens.

Today, though, astronomy tells us there’s nothing to it — Mars moving eastward or westward or standing still is simply a result of our changing viewing angle.

Earth moved past Mars early last month. As it did so, our viewing angle switched. It looked like Mars had shifted into that reverse gear. But the planet didn’t change direction at all — it kept up its usual pace and direction around the Sun. Today, we reach the distance from Mars where the planet appears to stop in its tracks. And after this, the angle will be such that Mars will resume its normal easterly course. It won’t have any impact on human behavior — unless you want it to.

Mars is high in the east at nightfall, and looks like a bright orange star. The bright orange eye of the bull — the star Aldebaran — stands to the lower right of Mars.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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