Worth staying up for: Mars shining with star Regulus
But be quick — this conjunction will be at its best for only two nights this week
Starry Night Software
Mars pays a visit to the brightest star in the constellation Leo: Regulus.
If you don’t often look at the early morning sky, you may not notice that the planet Mars has been drawing closer to Earth. By a happy coincidence, the Red Planet will be very close to the brightest star in the constellation Leo Wednesday night and early Thursday.
Astronomers call these close approaches "conjunctions." Tonight, Mars will pass just 1.4 degrees north of the bright star Regulus, appearing less than three moon widths away from the star. This will be a very pretty sight, and well worth staying up until 3 a.m. local time to see. But, if you miss it tonight, Mars will still be close to Regulus for the next week.
The sky map of Mars and Regulus here shows where they will appear together in the sky overnight tonight.
This week, Mars reaches first magnitude, making it one of the brightest objects in the sky. It will continue to get brighter until it reaches a bright magnitude of –1.2 (negative numbers denote extra bright objects) on March 3, its date of opposition to the sun, when it will be placed exactly opposite the sun in Earth's sky.
To get the best view of tonight's conjunction, take a look eastward at around 3 a.m. local time. The Big Dipper, known to astronomers as Ursa Major (the Great Bear), will be to your left, and the slanting sides of the Big Dipper’s bowl will point right at the Mars and Regulus pairing. Mars will be slightly brighter than Regulus and obviously reddish in color in contrast to the star.
Through a telescope, the disk of Mars is still very small, only 6 arc seconds in diameter, but you should be able to make out its tiny north polar cap.
Over the next few months, Mars will grow to slightly more than twice this size, but still very small compared to its close approach to Earth in 2003. This is what is called an unfavorable apparition of Mars, since Mars will be at its farthest distance from the sun as it nears its opposition this year.
If Mars is too tiny this week to show much, take a look at some interesting double stars. The most famous double star in the sky is located in the middle of the handle of the Big Dipper: Mizar.
Mizar was used as a test of eyesight in ancient times. Anyone who could see its tiny companion Alcor was considered to have excellent vision. Can you see Alcor?
With a telescope, Mizar itself can be split into a double star, so the Mizar-Alcor system is in fact a triple star. But wait: studies with a spectroscope show that all three of these stars are a double star too close for a telescope to split. All three are spectroscopic doubles, so the whole system actually consists of six stars.
- Tucked under the handle of the Dipper (or the tail of the Bear) is a tiny constellation with a long name: Canes Venatici. This is Latin for "the hunting dogs," and these dogs are thought to be chasing the Great Bear.
Although Canes Venatici has only a couple of stars visible to the naked eye, it contains hundreds of distant galaxies, one of the richest areas for deep sky observers. Closer at hand is the beautiful double star, Cor Caroli. This is Latin for "Charles' Heart," named for the British king Charles, though no one is sure which King Charles the name refers to —there were two.
Regulus , the Ruler or Lawgiver,
the Heart of the Lion
As the brightest star in Leo, Regulus has been almost universally associated in ancient cultures with the concept of royal or kingly power. The name Regulus actually comes from the Latin rex, or king. The star was known in Arabia as Malikiyy, the Kingly One; in Greece as the "Star of the King"; in ancient Babylon, as Sharru or the King; to the even more ancient Akkadians of Mesopotamia it represented Amil-gal-ur, the legendary King of the Celestial Sphere who ruled before the great flood.
The Hindu title Magha signifies the Mighty or the Great One. The Persian name Miyan means the Central One or the Star of the Center. The Latin Cor Leonis is the equivalent of the later Arabian Al Kalb al Asad, the Heart of the Royal Lion.
Regulus is known as one of the four Royal Stars of the heavens, the other three being Aldebaran, Fomalhaut, and Antares. Regulus, in the constellation Leo, is the northern Royal Star. These four Royal Stars are considered to be sentinels watching over other stars and form a Fixed Cross in the heavens. (There is hidden meaning in this configuration and the term Fixed Cross, worthy of contemplation.)
Regulus lies at the base of the sickle of Leo, resembling a reversed question mark some 16 degrees (1) high. To modern sky watchers this sickle outlines the majestic head and mane of the great westward-facing lion, crouched in the regal pose of the enigmatic Egyptian Sphinx.
Regulus is only half a degree (1) from the ecliptic, therefore a relatively common sight is to view the moon or other bright planet passing close to Regulus, and infrequently occulting it. Regulus was occulted by Venus, an exceedingly rare event, on July 7, 1959. According to modern computations, no other occultation by a first magnitude star will occur for several centuries. Remarkably, the planet Venus came within 1.1 degree of Regulus on August 6, 1992, however the sun blocked our ability to view this near-conjunction from the earth.
Regulus, a first magnitude star, is the 21st brightest star in our sky. Its estimated diameter is five times that of our sun (our sun is about one million miles wide), with a luminosity of 160 times that of our sun. It is 85 light years from Earth; this means it takes 85 years for the light which is emitted from Regulus, in present time, to actually be visible to us. What we see today is an 85-year old picture of Regulus!
Regulus is also known as the Ruler, the Lawgiver. When we think of the word Regulus it can be held as a regulator. In the dictionary, regulate means "to make regular; put in good order; adjust by rule." A regulator is "one who or that which regulates; a lever for regulating motion."
We know that the quality of the star Sirius is of freedom and liberation from all that hinders evolution. Every year the sun passes in front of the star Sirius at the Fourth of July, America's Independence Day. Bastille Day, France's independence day, and Canada's independence day all occur in the month of July as the sun passes through the field of the Dog, Canis Major.
There is more real occultism hidden in the names given to the various stars by astronomers down the ages than has yet been realised. (2)
Esoterically Regulus acts as a lens for Sirius. (3) Sirius is the star of Christ consciousness and we associate the Christ with the Heart center. As Sirius is known as the Dog Star (God Star), then the star Regulus (the Heart of the Lion, the Lawgiver), its "lens," serves as the regulator of Sirian energy to the earth, stimulating the response in humanity to express heart consciousness, the quality we call love. The Soul is synonymous with love; Christ, the Heart consciousness.
Love, indeed, is an action. Energy is simply energy, and we choose to react to its stimulation in various ways. Some could interpret this stimulation as the need to become free from restriction by forcing another to their idea of freedom, or they may rise up against that which attempts to impinge on their freedom of choice. Regardless of the reaction, CHANGE and LOVE do happen, as EVOLUTION occurs.
Regulus is imminently emerging from its position at 29 degrees of the sign Leo, into the sign Virgo (of course, regardless it is still in the constellation of Leo). The sun passes through this area of the sky every year during the month of August. We know the sun is the physical center of our solar system and amplifies the quality of the constellation it passes in front of in the sky, from the earth's perspective.
Have you noticed that during the month of August, our world has undergone great changes? Almost exactly as the sun came to the same degree as the star Regulus on August 21, 1991, the communist party in the Soviet Union launched a coup against its "king," Gorbachev. The symbol of the Soviet Union was the hammer and sickle, and remember, Regulus lies at the base of the sickle in the head of the Lion. Esoterically, a sickle is used to cut out or cut down that which hinders the application of spiritual law, and so hinders the flowering forth of the Soul.
An attempt was then made by a few individuals to cut out Gorbachev, who was promoting change, freedom and unity for the good of all. The soul of Russia was transforming under his leadership. The intention by the few to control the many initally failed, but it did further catalyze the Soviet Union into monumental transformation. The kings in the far east rose up against each other as Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990. Then in August 1992, Saddam rose up again.
That same August, the conflict in Bosnia-Hersegovina escalated into a world concern, as atrocities to basic human rights there were revealed. A draft treaty banning the use of chemical weapons in warfare was agreed upon by the United Nations on August 7, 1992; this treaty had been pending since 1968.
Mussolini joined forces with Hitler in August 1943, and the U.S. dropped the bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The freedom of so many was to be nonexistent under the rule of Hitler or Japan. It appears as though Regulus, the Lawgiver, may act as an emissary for Divine Will.
Prophecy from the Ageless Wisdom teachings:
A certain relationship or configuration of stars — of which one is the star Regulus, in Leo — will bring about a situation wherein the reorientation of the attitude of the legal profession will take place; its functions and duties will be centralized for the purpose of world usefulness, and in this process legislation for children will assume great importance and be the motivating power. This legal step will be primarily advocated by Russia and endorsed by the United States of America. Before 2035 A.D. such legislation will be universal in its sphere of influence and control. (4)
(Some of us may physically be here to witness the fulfillment of this prophecy!)
It would be presumptuous to believe Regulus exists only to influence humans and this planet. Our ideas on the qualities of the star Regulus are undoubtedly only a minute piece of the infinite influences this great sun has on our earth and the universe.
"As Above, So Below."
Besides Regulus, the other three Royal Stars in the heavens are
Antares in the constellation Scorpio the Scorpion, the Western Royal Star,
Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus the Bull, the Eastern Royal Star,
and Fomalhaut in the constellation Pisces Austrinus, the Southern Fish
(very close to the constellation Aquarius), the Southern Royal Star.
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The Fixed Cross
The Cross of the Crucified Christ
Fixed Cross Ponderings
This is outstandingly the Cross of the Soul. The person who is upon the Fixed Cross is becoming increasingly aware of its direction and influences, and does not respond as blindly as others who have not yet mounted this Cross. One does not mount this Cross of Right Direction until they have attained some measure of soul contact and have had some touch of illumination and of spiritual intuition—no matter how fleeting that touch may have been.
It is the Cross of "fixed vision and of that immovable intent which draws one from points of light to blazing solar radiance." The person upon the Fixed Cross says, "I am the soul and here I stand. Naught shall remove my feet from off the narrow place whereon I stand. I face the light. I am the Light and in that light shall I see Light."
It is the Cross whose four energies blend with and transmit the energies of the solar system itself. This it can do because the person upon the Fixed Cross is becoming increasingly conscious of issues which are larger than their own self, more engrossing than their previous interests, and those which concern humanity in its relation to solar forces and not just planetary forces. One is becoming sensitive to the larger whole.
The energies of this Cross continue to evoke response until the time of the third initiation, the Tranfiguration.
It is called the Fixed Cross because one is stretched upon it by the directed choice and immovable intent of one's Soul. From that decision there is no turning back.
The secret of Taurus is revealed at the second initiation, the Baptism.* At this time one experiences the sudden removal or disappearance of the world of glamour in the blinding energy of light. This constitutes the final radiant activity of the Taurian force upon humanity during the long and cyclic journey to which humanity is committed. The individual enacts on a tiny scale what humanity—as a whole—will enact when it takes initiation in Taurus.
*With the second initiation of Baptism in Light, testing and struggle begins on the astral plane as one makes the effort to release the personality from emotional control. The light of reason enters and one continues to shift from the astral (emotional) plane to the mental plane. Self-consciousness begins to give way to group consciousness as the Will of the Soul begins to function. The first contact with Shamballa energy is experienced. The symbol of this stage is the Dove of Peace.
When we are talking about the crosses, are we talking about Taurus the sign or Taurus the constellation? They are interchangeable. The constellation empowers the sign.
Alice A. Bailey's Esoteric Astrology
*p. 387–388; 553–575
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"The Initiatory Process" booklet by Frances Adams Moore
published by Group for Creative Meditation,
Meditation Mount, Ojai