Mercury went into retrograde on July 7, but believers can all breathe a sigh of relief. If you feel like the planet has caused chaos, rest easy knowing that Mercury goes direct on Wednesday, July 31. And before you start worrying about the next time it happens, we want you to know just a little more about this occurrence. The so-called celestial event has inspired many a meme, and it has certainly given us a reason to think that our lives are just a little bit out of control (even if it’s via a small miscommunication with our significant other, a speeding ticket, or another small hiccup in our day to day).
We're sorry to break it to you, but science suggests that Mercury in retrograde is not all we've chalked it up to be — it's actually just an optical illusion, and our eyes are tricking us as we observe something millions of miles away. To get the full details, we spoke with a cosmology expert and found all the information you'll need to navigate the weekend ahead.
Mercury retrograde typically takes place for three weeks, and this one will come to an end on July 31. So, if you relate to this ...
... we can help you survive it, and any other retrogrades in the future. Trust the experts, and get answers to your most-asked questions below.
What does it mean that Mercury is in retrograde?
Mercury in retrograde is an optical illusion that has to do with how we perceive the movement of Mercury. According to NASA, retrograde means, “having a direction which is opposite that of similar bodies.” But that is not actually what Mercury is doing at all.
“As seen from Earth, the planet appears to reverse its motion in the sky,” says Dr. Nicholas Campion, associate professor in cosmology and culture at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. “It doesn’t in reality, but this is what it looks like. What’s really happening is that Mercury is orbiting the Sun closer to the Earth." The planets closer to the Sun (i.e. Mercury) move faster than the planets farther away (i.e. Earth), but they are all orbiting in the same direction.
Mercury “laps” Earth every four months or so, and when this happens, the Mercury retrograde illusion occurs. So, for about three weeks at a time, we think our world is completely shifted (though Mercury is really just passing us more quickly.)
When will Mercury be in retrograde this year?
The July retrograde was the second one of the year, but it's not the last. The final time Mercury will be in retrograde in 2019 is from October 31 to November 20.
How does Mercury in retrograde affect us?
It really shouldn’t affect us at all. If you have an affinity for astrology, however, you may feel that everything is out of sorts in your life. There’s a reason why so many people search, “Is Mercury in retrograde?” on Google, to the point where there’s a website called www.ismercuryinretrograde.com.
“I think it gives people the feeling that they have access to some kind of higher cosmic knowledge,” says Campion. “I don’t think it actually does, but this is what they feel.”
When life hits us with obstacles, it can feel appropriate or even comforting to say it’s Mercury’s fault. It’s believed that as Mercury moves “backward,” so do our lives. Whether it’s a conflict with your BFF or accidentally sleeping through an alarm, blaming Mercury is way safer than blaming ourselves. So while science doesn’t back you up, we encourage you to go forth with confidence that nothing will bring you down October 31 to November 20
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