As if he hadn’t done enough to get the public at large interested in space with his zero-gravity version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”(video below), Col. Chris Hadfield has released a book of photographs taken from the international space station called You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes, published by Little Brown. These photos are a stunning example of how much beauty can come from a change in perspective. “Bird’s eye view” doesn’t cut it here: these photos are a rare glimpse of a view of earth seen by a relative few. These photos are an absolute delight.
1.) Close Neighbors: (left to right) Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan, split by the Detroit River.
2.) Cuba, Florida, and everything in between.
3.) The Nile River, flowing into the Mediterranean Sea.
Saying “Mercury is in retrograde” (or “Mercury is retrograde”, for grammar fans) means that it looks like it’s going backwards from where we are on Earth. It happens three times a year and people claim it leads to all kinds of bad luck and failures of communication.
FB friends are attributing their tech issues and other life problems to #mercuryretrograde. Have I taught you people NOTHING?!
— astroprofhoff (@Jennifer L. Hoffman)
I get the most random messages from my friends. ðŸ˜‚ðŸ˜‚ðŸ˜‚ let me look up this #mercuryretrograde stuff again.
— Maat_Justice (@Fed-Up Black Esq.)
4. You can even find survival guides to help you through this difficult time.
In fact, most of the time at least one planet is in retrograde. Mars has one every two years, and according to Universe Today, “at any one time, 40% of the outer planets are in retrograde motion anyway.”
It’s because of our respective orbits around the sun. Most of the time, Mercury appears to move west to east across the sky from Earth, but three times a year, it switches direction and appears to go east to west. It’s just an optical illusion – the planet never actually changes direction.
5. And, statistically, things don’t tend to get worse when Mercury is retrograde.
In 2006, the New York Timestook a look at some statistics. They found that traffic accidents basically didn’t change during Mercury’s retrograde period:
During the retrograde periods in spring 2005 and 2006, Transcom counted an average of 41.9 major events per day — accidents, car fires, stoplight malfunctions and the like — on local roads.
During comparable nonretrograde periods, the average was 42.4 per day. That amounts to a decline of 1 percent in traffic headaches during retrograde episodes.
It’s a similar story for late trains, computer repairs, missing baggage, burglaries, and car thefts.
But there is a psychological reason you (or your friends) might think things are worse during Mercury’s retrograde period.
Our brain tends to disregard anything that disproves what we believe.
You might notice an influx of bad things happening to you during the retrograde. But what you might be ignoring is all the other times bad things have happened to you the rest of the year.
It’s a phenomenon called confirmation bias, and it’s one of the biggest tricks our brains play on us. Basically, when you have a belief or hypothesis, you’re likely to favor the things that confirm it, even if they’re not true — and ignore evidence that would disprove it. It’s why we prefer sources that have the same opinions as us: Anything else makes us uncomfortable.
So if you’re late to a meeting because of a train delay and shake your head at Mercury, just remember all of the other times you’ve experienced delays, and all the other retrogrades when nothing’s happened.
Basically, if something goes wrong for you between now and February 11, you can’t blame Mercury. Sorry.