This week in the sky it’s all about time, with Saturn peeking up over the eastern edge of the world just as the Sun sets. On Sunday, Saturn made its annual retrograde opposition with the Sun, tracking westward against the background of stars. And now the lazy days of summer begin, with their long shadows slanting toward Fall.
So why is Saturn connected to time? One way to answer is to consider the word “planet” which derives from a Greek word that means “wandering star.” Among the wandering stars that are visible to the naked eye, Saturn clearly moves the slowest, so in the ancient world, this planet marked boundary of time. Saturn, or Kronos to the Greeks, was the son of Ouranus, god of the sky, or space. This reveals an interesting, ancient concept that time is born out of space.
Then there’s the planet Jupiter, which has long been associated with things that want to expand and grow toward the future, and perhaps as our largest planet Jupiter would be endlessly expanding in space, except that it has Saturn, or time, to keep it in check.
Jupiter has also just started its retrograde, so now it’s also backtracking into the evening sky, where we’ll be able to see it next month.
Here’s Seamus Heaney:
Now it’s high watermark
and floodtide in the heart
and time to go.
The sea-nymphs in the spray
will be the chorus now.
What’s left to say?
Suspect too much sweet-talk
but never close your mind.
It was a fortunate wind
that blew me here. I leave
half-ready to believe
that a crippled trust might walk
and the half-true rhyme is love.
Hear this episode on Interlochen Public Radio, and on podcasts everywhere!
beach grass arch at sunset, Lake Michigan by msa