The splendour of the international Venus transit began in NZ, at about 10.15am.
The resurge in interest in Venus, albeit short-lived, brings to mind the role planets played in cultures of the past.
Venus is one of the inner planets that move, rather than being a fixed faraway star, and along with the other ("wander" = "planet") moving bodies of Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have always intrigued humans.
After all, Venus is the second brightest object in the night sky, the Moon being the brightest.
Calendars evolved around their orbits, and by dividing the heavens into 12 arbitrary divisions through which each planet was observed to pass, an 'energy' grid was established which became the ancient astrology.
This was initially applied to agriculture, in the desire for a better harvest. At present Venus is in the area formally known as Gemini.
Just as the seasons, weather, tides and climate change when Sun and Moon occupy different positions in the sky in the course of a month, year or longer cycle, so to some extent it was believed that planets in combinations also exerted effects.
These combinations are probably indirect through tidal effects on the Sun.
In turn the Sun affects Earth's electromagnetic field which then stresses everything on Earth, like atmosphere, soil, and what is beneath.
This also includes those walking on the earth, being also composed of earthly materials and subject to their own bio-tides.
For instance it was believed that Venus passing through earth-signs of Gemini and Aquarius in autumn and winter brings south winds, precipitation and colder temperatures.
Venus is in Gemini this year for NZ from 3 April - 6 August, with the midpoint or peak of influence 4-6 June. An ancient forecaster could have used that, along with other factors like the perigeal southern full moon of 4-6 June to predict our present cold snap.
Further, ancient astrologers believed that a winter Venus-Sun 'conjunction', meaning side by side or transiting, this year only happening 3-8 June, brings cooler weather, calmer winds and piling inland snow.
This is logical, as a cold shadow would be upon us, much like a teenager standing in front of a heater.
So what happened at the last Venus transit, on 8 June 2004? Well, no surprise that in Christchurch on that very day the minimum plunged to -5C, and wouldn't be as cold again until -7C on 23 June. Venus was in Gemini 5 April - 7 Aug 2004, with the midpoint on 6-7 June 2004, only a day from the actual transit.
Of course it could have been a fluke. And on 23 June, Venus squared Uranus - more on that in a moment.
Venus's position amidst the constellations changes each year. In 2011, Venus occupied Gemini 11 June - 5 July.
The midpoint was 22 June. The 22nd was an extremely cold day across the whole country, with a polar blast bringing deep southerlies, something forecasters attributed to the solstice (shortest day). But it was highly possible, depending on one's belief in these matters, that Venus was involved.
Other years? In 2010 Venus in Gemini was throughout most of May. The national average temperature of 9.0°C was 1.6°C below May's long-term average that year.
The midpoint was in May's second week, as were lowest temperatures (on 12th in Hanmer Forest).
The year before that in 2009, Venus was in Gemini from 6 July-1 Aug, the midpoint being 19 July.
The lowest temperature for that month was recorded at Middlemarch, with a minimum temperature of -11.7 °C on the 19th. Perhaps it was another fluke.
But when does fluke become something worth investigating? Does it mean we can use Venus to predict cold?
A Venus-Uranus combination called sextile starts this year on 9 June and continues for a month, the interpretation being chilly days with cloudless skies and still air.
It indicates more frosts than snow. And we can remember the aforementioned freezing Venus-Uranus conjunction of 23 June 2004.
So astrological techniques can be said to be clicking along pretty well at the moment.
All planetary factors considered, June may bring about 10 snow days to Christchurch, but with only light falls for the rest of this month. In July there may be snow on 15 days, in August on 11 days, in September on 1 day, and in October on 12 days. After this recent precipitation, the next heaviest snowfalls may have to wait until August and October.
Most cultures have retained links to ancient systems. In the western world astrology is still considered by some to be a Satanic conspiracy.
Despite this, the days of our week retain astrological names. The reader will recognise Sun's-day, Moon's-day, Mars'-day which in French was Martes-day(Tuesday), Mercury's-day (Wednesday), and Jupiter (Thors'-day).
In Latin-derived languages such as Romanian, Spanish, French, and Italian, the sound of "v" was replaced "f" and as "Fri" resembled words for Venus (Vineri, Viernes), Venus's-day became Friday.
In 1860 the British Meteorology Service was established under Robert Fitzroy, primarily to discredit the astrologer old-guard that was enjoying popularity.
Forecasting for many months ahead was replaced with predicting only a day or two ahead, something that remains to this day. Are we better off? Some non-western and indigenous cultures still utilise what was employed for thousands of years.
The word "heaven" derived from kamer, meaning to bend, arched, via kemen and himin. Modern words are camber and chamber, and heaven came to mean the vaulted (arched) room where the deities lived.
As too much interest would be considered heresy, the Venus transit became a safe trigonometric procedure by god-fearing scientists to measure that planet's distance from us.
This rare event has returned some to the awe of gazing deep into the heavens in the eternal search for meanings to their earth-bound lives. It has been a connection back to wonder.
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