Great conjunction

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A great conjunction is a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn.[Note 1] The last great conjunction took place on May 31, 2000, while the next one will be in late December 2020. Great conjunctions take place regularly, every 18–20 years, as a result of the combined ~12-year orbital period of Jupiter around the Sun, and Saturn's ~30-year orbital period. The 2000 conjunction fell within mere weeks after both had passed conjunction with the Sun, and it was very difficult to observe without visual aid because the two planets rose only 30–45 minutes before sunrise, depending upon the location of the observer.

A greatest conjunction is a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn at or near their opposition to the Sun. In this scenario, Jupiter and Saturn will occupy the same position in right ascension on three separate occasions over a period of a few months. Such tripled occurrences are actually known as triple conjunctions.

In the years 1800 to 2100[edit]

Great conjunctions in right ascension
Date Time
(UTC)
Angular distance
from Jupiter to Saturn
Elongation
from Saturn to the Sun
Zodiac sign
21 July 1802 03:22:00 42' South 37.9° East Virgo
25 June 1821 00:05:09 1°15' North 67.5° West Aries
22 November 1821 23:49:55 1°20' North 140.2° East Aries
23 December 1821 09:28:49 1°22' North 108.5° East Aries
25 January 1842 22:22:31 32' South 26.8° West Capricorn
25 October 1861 15:11:20 52' South 43.1° West Virgo
22 April 1881 11:58:20 1°18' North 1.0° East Taurus
28 November 1901 06:10:38 27' South 38.6° East Capricorn
14 September 1921 16:22:08 1°02' South 6.2° East Virgo
15 August 1940 13:18:42 1°15' North 97.5° West Taurus
11 October 1940 23:17:26 1°17' North 155.0° West Taurus
20 February 1941 19:14:02 1°21' North 67.7° East Taurus
18 February 1961 14:42:37 14' South 34.6° West Capricorn
14 January 1981 07:58:37 1°09' South 103.9° West Libra
19 February 1981 07:12:10 1°09' South 141.2° West Libra
30 July 1981 21:32:22 1°12' South 57.9° East Libra
31 May 2000 10:13:27 1°11' North 16.9° West Taurus
21 December 2020 13:22 6' South 30.3° East Aquarius
November 5, 2040 13:19:46 1°14' South 24.8° West Libra
10 April 2060 09:01:25 1°09' North 39.8° East Gemini
15 March 2080 08:29:24 6' North 43.8° West Aquarius
24 September 2100 01:40:38 1°18' South 25.1° East Libra
Great conjunctions in ecliptic longitude
Date Time
(UTC)
Angular distance
from Jupiter to Saturn
Elongation
from Saturn to the Sun
Zodiac sign
17 July 1802 22:57:00 39' South 40.6° East Virgo
19 June 1821 16:56:57 1°10' North 63.3° West Aries
26 January 1842 06:16:53 32' South 27.1° West Capricorn
21 October 1861 12:27:02 48' South 39.7° West Virgo
18 April 1881 13:35:59 1°13' North 3.1° East Taurus
28 November 1901 16:37:33 26' South 38.2° East Capricorn
10 September 1921 04:13:03 57' South 9.7° East Virgo
August 8, 1940 01:13:20 1°11' North 90.9° West Taurus
20 October 1940 04:42:14 1°14' North 164.0° West Taurus
15 February 1941 06:36:25 1°17' North 72.9° East Taurus
19 February 1961 00:07:18 14' South 34.9° West Capricorn
31 December 1980 21:17:24 1°03' South 90.9° West Libra
March 4, 1981 19:14:36 1°03' South 155.9° West Libra
24 July 1981 04:13:35 1°06' South 63.8° East Libra
28 May 2000 15:56:27 1°09' North 14.9° West Taurus
21 December 2020 18:37:31 6' South 30.1° East Aquarius
31 October 2040 12:02:47 1°08' South 20.8° West Libra
April 7, 2060 22:36:24 1°07' North 41.9° East Gemini
15 March 2080 01:49:55 6' North 43.5° West Capricorn
18 September 2100 22:50:40 1°13' South 29.4° East Libra

As omens[edit]

Great conjunctions have attracted considerable attention as celestial omens. There has been some speculation,[by whom?] for example, that the so-called "Star of Bethlehem" was a great conjunction that occurred c. 7 BCE.[1] During the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, great conjunctions were a topic broached by most astronomers of the period up to the times of Tycho Brahe and Kepler, by scholastic thinkers as Roger Bacon[2] or Pierre d'Ailly,[3] and they are mentioned in popular and literary writing by authors such as Dante[4] or Shakespeare.[5] This interest is traced back in Europe to the translations from Arabian sources, most notably Albumasar's book on conjunction.[6]

As successive great conjunctions occur nearly 120° apart, their appearances form a triangular pattern. In a series every fourth conjunction returns after some 60 years in the vicinity of the first. These returns are observed to be shifted by some 7–8°, so no more than four of them occur in the same zodiacal sign. To each triangular pattern astrologers have ascribed one from the series of four elements and thus four triplicities or trigons are formed. Particular importance has been accorded to the occurrence of a great conjunction in a new trigon, which is bound to happen after some 200 years at most.[7] Even greater importance was attributed to the beginning of a new cycle after all fours trigons had been visited, something which happens in about 800 years. Since each 'element' (trigon) consists of 3 signs it takes 800x3=2400 for the whole process to start anew (relation with the cycle of Precession).

Kepler's trigon, a diagram of great conjunctions (from the book De Stella Nova (1606) by Johannes Kepler)

Originally a trigon was thought[by whom?] to last 240 years, and the full cycle 960 years; but later more correct estimation were provided by the Alphonsine tables.[4] Despite the inaccuracies and some disagreement about the beginning of the cycle the belief in the significance of such events generated a stream of publications which grew steadily up to the end of the 16th century. As the great conjunction of 1583 was the last in the watery trigon it was widely supposed to herald apocalyptic changes; a papal bull against divinations was issued in 1586 and as nothing really significant had happened by 1603 with the advent of a new trigon, the public interest rapidly died.

Great conjunctions and US president deaths[edit]

According to financial astrologer Daniel T. Ferrera,[8] whenever a great conjunction occurs during an election or inauguration year, the president is likely to die in office. Careful analysis shows that, although it remained correct from 1840 to 1960, this rule started to “lose its power” after 1980. However, even though those presidents did not die in office, they still came close in each case. See the table below for details:

Presidents who were elected around a great conjunction
Election Year President Died in office? Date of Death or Incident Cause of Death / Detail of Incident
1840 William Henry Harrison Yes 4 April 1841 Pneumonia
1860 Abraham Lincoln Yes 15 April 1865 Assassination
1880 James A. Garfield Yes 19 September 1881 Assassination
1900 William McKinley Yes 14 September 1901 Assassination
1920 Warren G. Harding Yes 2 August 1923 Heart attack
1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt Yes 12 April 1945 Cerebral haemorrhage
1960 John F. Kennedy Yes 22 November 1963 Assassination
1980 Ronald Reagan No 30 March 1981 Shot but survived.
2000 George W. Bush No 10 May 2005 Thrown a live grenade which did not detonate.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michael R. Molnar: The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi, Rutgers University Press, 1999
  2. ^ The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon, ed. J. H. Bridges, Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1897, Vol. I, p. 263.
  3. ^ De concordia astronomice veritatis et narrationis historice (1414) [1]
  4. ^ a b Woody K., Dante and the Doctrine of the Great Conjunctions,Dante Studies, with the Annual Report of the Dante Society, No. 95 (1977), pp. 119–134
  5. ^ Aston M., The Fiery Trigon Conjunction: An Elizabethan Astrological Prediction, Isis, Vol. 61, No. 2 (Summer, 1970), pp. 158–187
  6. ^ De magnis coniunctionibus was translated in the 12th century, a modern edition-translation by K. Yamamoto and Ch. Burnett, Leiden, 2000
  7. ^ Etz D., (2000), Conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 94, p.174 [2]
  8. ^ Ferrera, Daniel T. (2001). Mysteries of Gann Analysis Unveiled!. Sacred Science Institute. 

External links[edit]