Signs and Seasons, Days and Years

Appendix C

The Astronomical Key

The astronomical observations which turn out to be the most significant key to the findings of this study are the exceptionally close conjunctions of Venus with Jupiter between 620BC and 35AD. It’s here that a number of unexpected results emerge:

  • Finding the unexpectedly high degree of correlation between Venus/Jupiter conjunctions and the Sabbath year cycle
  • Finding unexpected correlations between the Venus/Jupiter conjunctions and the Venus/Regulus triple conjunctions
  • Finding an actual Jubilee cycle marked at both beginning and end by conjunctions of Venus with Jupiter

Venus/Jupiter conjunctions happen all the time, about once a year on the average. Being so frequent, if we were to look at all occurrences between 620BC and 35AD, there would be an immense amount of data to process, and we’d likely miss anything that’s truly relevant. Also for these conjunctions in general, it’s not hard to predict when a Venus/Jupiter conjunction will occur, which makes them less likely to be truly relevant as meaningful signs in the sky. For this reason, for a long time I resisted looking closely at what Venus was doing. I just didn’t have the time for it.

When we constrain our search to just the closest conjunctions however, we find an interesting thing. Of course, there’s less data to deal with. But also we find that for the closest conjunctions there is a high degree of unpredictability. Not that they can’t be predicted. Modern software that models the dynamics of our Solar System does a fine job of it. But the occurrence of the closest conjunctions isn’t predictable by any simple rule like “just watch for it every 12 years.”

The closest conjunctions occur only at transition points in Venus’ cycle when it’s beginning to depart from the ecliptic to make a loop around the Sun. To try to predict at which of these transition points we’ll hit on an exceptionally close conjunction would be something like trying to predict precisely where we’re going to see whitecaps on the waves of the sea.

It’s not that the waves of the sea are unpredictable. Like the planets, all that they do is in strict conformity to natural laws. It’s just that the complexity of the numerous forces involved makes them seem quite unpredictable to our limited minds.

But when we look at the actual close conjunctions of Venus with Jupiter which have occurred, out of the sea of seemingly random unpredictability, we find these unexpected patterns and order emerging.

If you’re like me, these are things that you probably have to see for yourself before you can fully accept them. Nobody would expect to find such patterns in the orbits of the planets. So the purpose of this appendix is to make some tools available for verifying these amazing and unexpected results. With typical planetarium software like Starry Night or Stellarium, it takes a lot of tedious work to find the few exceptionally close conjunctions from among the many ordinary Venus/Jupiter conjunctions. What’s needed is software that can actually do the searching for you. There is a program that will do this, called “Solex”. It’s available for download at http://www.solexorb.it/SolexOld/. It takes a bit of study to get up to speed on how to work with it, but here’s a quick cheat sheet on what commands to use in order to reproduce the list I’ve presented of 11 exceptionally close conjunctions of Venus with Jupiter:

  • Start Solex
  • Enter (accept default for Max Magnitude of Stars)
  • 1 (select DE421)
  • -620 (starting year)
  • Enter (accept default Tab. Step)
  • E (turn on Ecliptic coordinate system)
  • D (turn on Delta-T)
    • A (select Auto)
  • Y (Close Approaches)
    • A (angular)
    • 2/5 (between Venus and Jupiter)
    • .0167 (Max angle of 1 minute)
  • 36 (ending year +1)

And that’s it. It will take several minutes to complete the search and then will show you a list of all the conjunctions found – all the Venus/Jupiter conjunctions from 620BC to 35AD whose closest approach was 1 minute of a degree or less.

If you have Starry Night or Stellarium or something equivalent, go ahead and look up the dates there if you’d like to see some amazing specimens of extremely close conjunctions. To see the closest one, at a separation of just 2 seconds, try Jan 27/28 of the year -553. Though these planetarium programs don’t match the precision of Solex, for dates as ‘recent’ as these, they should give you nearly the same results.

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