by Boots Hart, CAP

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Halley’s Comet: Famous in Our Own Minds

 A portrait of Edmond Halley painted around 1687 by Thomas Murray

Comet Halley (or ‘P1’ as it’s known in astronomy catalogues) is one of those celestial objects mankind has known about for a very, very long time. Sky watchers from ancient China to Babylon noticed it. 

People started writing about it in 240 BCE, so as they say…by the time Halley came along, his comet had already been around some!

Seriously, the comet is named for an Englishman by the name of Edmond Halley. And the reason it got named after him is simply because Halley was the guy who sat down and thought about this comet which his friend Sir Issac Newton had been going on about and after looking at the records realized that the comet which had appeared in 1456, 1531, 1607 and 1682 was probably the same comet.

In other words, he figured out Comet Halley’s ‘periodicity’ (a fancy way of saying how often it shows up) and because he did this, Halley was made eternally famous by having his name given to this particular short-period comet.

And how often does Comet Halley show up? To spare you details and math here, every 75.3 years. Last seen in 1986, it’s due to reappear around the year 2059 with its next perihelion (approach to the Sun) occurring in the year 2061. So it’ll be a while yet. But when Comet Halley shows up, it’s one of the few objects of its kind that we can just go outside and watch. A lot of things about our solar system require special lenses or telescopes…not so with Halley’s Comet. It’s one of a generous handful of distant objects (in our solar system - we’re not talking about stars here) which are visible with one’s very own nicely naked eye. 

 Halley's Comet as photographed on May 29 1910 
(photo published in the New York Times on July 3, 1910)

Of all of those, it can be nicely argued that apart from eclipses (which are pretty awe-inspiring) Halley’s Comet just may be one of - if not the most famous, crowd-inspiring, news-prompting object to ever visit our sky. Halley’s is just famous.
And that’s something we should take note of. Halley 
prompts ‘mass attention.’ The guy who figured out its period of return became famous because of the comet. 

Between the two, it’s a pretty safe bet that Comet Halley the astrological object is about mass attention, the ability to generate mass attention (whether in the form of notoriety, fame, infamy or however else) or an attentiveness to those who themselves are famous or notorious.

In thinking about this, let’s take that periodicity number and divide it by common astrological numbers. When we do this, we find that dividing 75.3 (years) by four equals 18.825 (years) - which is right in there with 18.6 years as the full cycle of the lunar nodes and the Metonic (eclipse) cycle, which is 19 years or 235 lunar months long.
The point here is that those cycles (those about the lunar nodes and eclipses) are well-known socio-individual cycles. In other words, they’re about how we interface with society, our feelings about society and the nature of how society reacts to each and every individual one of us.

Yeah, fame. The eclipse cycle in particular has been known since ancient times for the ‘rise and fall of kings and societies.’ So comet Halley (and its 75.3 year cycle) seem tied into our relationship to mass attention, whether we’re part of the crowd or the object of love or hatred.
One more item on Halley’s orbit before we move on. Comet Halley will reach its aphelion - the point farthest from Earth - on December 9, 2023. Does that ring a bell? It should if you read the post on Sedna of a few days ago…..


…as that cited 2023 as the year when Sedna will move from Taurus into Gemini, to be followed by Pluto’s 2024 move from Capricorn into Aquarius.
Both air signs, yes.

In solar system terms, where does Halley hail from? In astronomical terms, Halley’s farthest point from the Sun, the ‘where it will be’ on December 9, 2023, is at 35.1 AU (astronomical units). That’s just beyond Neptune’s aphelion point, which is 30.44 AU. So in metaphysical terms, Halley brings to us a ‘Neptunian’ sort of quality - which again, goes with fame. In the chart, Neptune is often a symbol of fame (as distinct from ‘celebrity’ which is in astrological terms more about “acting famous” or “working to be famous.”) Eternal fame, like infamy, is really about someone who is terribly involved in what they’re doing - be that mass murder, scientific discovery or incredibly delicious, amazingly inspirational artwork.
As for how far in towards the Sun Comet Halley comes, the answer there is 0.586 AU, which is just inside Venus’ orbit, nestled between the perihelion points of asteroid Apollo (0.647 AU) and Daedalus (0.56299 AU).
Basically then we could say Comet Halley connects Neptune with Venus. And anyone who knows anything about astrology knows that would be, for better and worse, a pretty good description of ‘stirring the imagination (Neptune) and getting a response (Venus).’ On the positive end, that would be fame. On the negative end, that would equal notoriety. There’s probably a lot of very interesting astrological research to be done on Neptune and Venus plus where Halley is in its orbit both in the natal chart and as time goes on - whether that times the rise and fall of fame. Or the discovery of human monsters who have long gone about their work in secret.
So much to do! So little time…

What else do we know? We know that because of the path Comet Halley follows, it crosses Earth’s orbital path (the ecliptic) at two different places. And as Earth passes through Halley’s comet tail twice a year we get those magical sky shows we call meteor showers…little glimmers of light streaking across the sky - the metaphysical ‘sparking’ or ‘sprinkling’ of ideas from…from beyond our knowing.
That’s exactly what we think everything beyond Neptune’s orbit represents - the Unknown. And whether those meteor showers come to us as inspirations or motivations or perking of instinct, they seem to us truly unanticipated and ‘unbidden.’ What shape these ‘meteoric’ thoughts take in your life depends on which shower we’re talking about, where the yearly time period associated with said meteor shower falls in your natal chart…and the comet’s radiant.
What’s a radiant? That’s the point in the sky the comet appears to come from. For instance, this May meteor shower (occurring around the 5th and 6th) happens every year as the Sun passes through Taurus. Yet the shower itself is known as the ‘Eta Aquarids,’ and is so named because at that time of year Halley’s comet tail appears to be coming from near one of Aquarius’ brightest stars, Eta Aquarii.

Halley’s other meteor shower occurs in the latter part  October - often under the Sun sign of Scorpio, though sometimes just at the tail end of Libra. Known as the ‘Orionid’ meteor shower, its radiant lies in the constellation Orion.


With regards to the Aquarids, not only is the combination of Taurus and Aquarius telling in the sense that both are fixed signs, but the meteor shower itself occurs just where the Sun is crossing the half-way point in Taurus - a point which is also the first of four zodiacal ‘cross-quarter’ points.

In the abstract sense, cross-quarter points do two things. For one, they end up dividing the four ‘quarters’ of the 12-part zodiac into eight ‘phases’ which are mimic the eight phases of the Moon. That alone gives the cross-quarter points an aura of ‘humanness.’ And so they are - these four points are where we are tested and asked to move from abstract learning into operational application vis-à-vis the meaning of that sign and quadrant.
Taurus is the second of the zodiac signs, one of three signs which make up the first quarter or quadrant of the zodiac. The first three signs are about a very basic sort of learning. The essence of Aries is “I Am” and anything (or anyone) Aries is all about learning what it means to exist, to be alive, to be able to ‘do.’ Taurus - commonly known as ‘I have’ is about discernment of worth, and that we can have…and what we do have. It’s sort of the ‘toddler’ sign. In Taurus we see the joy of discovery, the trials and errors of selfishness versus generosity and a learning to operate independently and stand alone - all those efforts which together combine to build self-confidence and internal, intrinsic worth.
Aquarius, on the other hand, is far from Taurus’ here-and-now ‘touch it, grab it, value it’ vibe. Bracketed by Capricorn and Pisces, Aquarius is a fourth zodiac quarter sign and all about the world and worldly things. Aquarius embodies the idea of ‘universal functionality’ and is about as far from the ‘me/mine’ as one can get. Only when the whole of the ‘system’ works does everyone win in Aquarian terms. Individuals count and are nurtured under Aquarius because the truly Aquarius system involves everyone - and when everyone counts, then everybody has to support everybody in finding their niche, the place they fit best for their own (individual) purposes as well as in the benefit to the whole.

 Tapestry of Bayeux (c 1077) records the appearance of
 Halley's comet in 1066 (NASA-JPL photo archives)

So these signs are compatible - in the sense that they both need us to be who we need to be to fulfill our greater purpose for Self and finding our Aquarian place in the world (which benefits us and the world too!).

Optimally, that’s what the Eta Aquarid period should ‘spark’ in us - new ideas on how to be who we need to be to find that place and be whole and wholly fulfilled in our Self.
All of which brings us back to Halley and that ‘famous’ thing. Eta Aqaurii - the star closest to Halley’s May radiant is sometimes called Hydria, a name taken from the Greek ‘hudria’ for water jar. Remembering that water is the metaphysical image of emotions (and everything which matters or is of value to us, as those are the things which evoke emotionalism), in airy Aquarius and its associated 11th house the pouring of water out of a jar is the idea of our pouring ourselves into the into the world.

And that the Hebrews called this star ‘Deli’ (meaning hard) fits with the Aquarian/11th house idea of 'making it work.' With sign and house both associated with income, the warning is that though millions have tried to 'get rich quick,' ultimately that doesn't serve to fulfill us. Aquarius is the 'worldly' side of the create-and-profit from Leo/5th-Aquarius/11th house polarity and to 'make it all work' takes effort.

It's our life and as humans, given that Saturn is the farthest planet we see with our mortal eye, striving - working to build or learn, improve or achieve satisfies some internal need we have to strive. In testing ourselves against our ability to do and do better, we come to appreciate ourselves...

...and that - ultimately - is satisfying it and of itself. The riches of human nature are not measured in money, they’re measured in that most precious of Aquarian-11th house commodities: self respect.
Self respect is what inspires us to pour forth our goodness into the world. Money may tempt us, but in the end, if whatever we do for money isn’t satisfying, our ‘thirst’ for self respect only grows greater. Good or bad, when we do what we feel we were made to do, we exhibit that confidence which, whether misplaced or not, fascinates others.
There’s just nothing like someone who’s found their place in the world, is there?
Halley found his place. Maybe he had been wishing on a star and ended up being famous for a comet? Stranger things have happened!

post blog note: for those who aren’t regular readers here at astroPPM, this post is related to the May Full Moon post which you can link to HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for elaborating on the metonic cycle and what a wonderful description of Halleys comet!

    the metaphysical ‘sparking’ or ‘sprinkling’ of ideas from…from beyond our knowing. Yes I am experiencing this....