Starting today, Jan. 20, and continuing through Feb. 20, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will appear in a straight line in the sky, leaving us all wondering what it means when the planets align. If you're hoping for some sort of mystical piece of magix, though, I've got bad news for you: To cut to the chase, planetary alignment means a whole lot of nothin'. Sorry, astrology fans.
Before we get to that, however, let's back up. This phenomenon is reportedly happening for the first time in a decade, and the formation will be visible during the early morning hours, just before dawn. Four of these planets have been aligning visibly since the beginning of the year, but now Mars is making its guest appearance. Making this event so special is the fact that you'll be able to experience it with the naked eye (no telescope required); furthermore, the planets will be so bright that you should be able to spot them even if you live in a bustling city with lots of light pollution.
Now, what could all of this mean? Does it signal the end of the world? Are pregnant women everywhere going to go into labor all at once, like they supposedly do on a full moon? Will an Earth-shattering natural disaster put every human life at risk? It turns out... no. To be clear, the planets are not even perfectly aligned. And although they're enormous, they've very far away from each other, and from us.
I'm going to let this guy do the talking for a minute:
So it looks like the current relative alignment of the five planets is likely nothing more than an extraordinary sight to behold (which is still pretty darn cool!). For the sake of argument, though, let's take a closer look.
Spirituality Finding The Deeper Meaning
Just because the alignment technically doesn't mean a heck of a lot, that doesn't mean that there aren't some people who believe in the power of the planets. For instance, there's a supposed spiritual significance to the planets aligning. Each of the five planets represents something in particular: Mercury represents communication (does your tone align with your intentions?); Venus symbolizes love (if you feel like you're not receiving enough love, give more; and if you are receiving enough, give thanks); Mars is viewed as the action planet (if there's something you've been wanting to do, now's the time! Just be mindful of your communication and your love); Jupiter is the philosopher of the planets (appreciate the good in life, appreciate the bad, forgive, and let go of negativity); and finally, Saturn is the symbol of karma (never forget that every action has a reaction; you get what you give).
These five planets aligning could mean that we all need to step back and take inventory of the deeper meaning. Are we communicating properly? With love? Are we taking appropriate action in life? Do we appreciate every lesson we learn? Do we project what we want to receive?
Peace And Love, Man
Another belief is that the alignment of the planets is somehow connected to a huge shift in energy, taking us from a place of war to a quieter place of peace and harmony. The evils plaguing the human race would finally take a back seat to love, acceptance, and cooperation. I'd be totally OK with this one.
The Bible Says We're All Going To Die — Sorry
Religion also has its own take on planets coming together in odd formations. A seriously less appealing explanation of what strange planetary behavior means is that it signals the end of the world as we know it. People acting oddly, terrible natural disasters, children wildly misbehaving — these are just a few happenings you might play witness to. In fact, the Bible apparently warns, "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD comes." Yikes.
Let's be clear: I'm a believer myself, but can we, like, quit talking about the world coming to an end?
What Doesn't Planetary Alignment Mean?
Now, let's talk about myths that have been pretty solidly debunked by science. One funny misconception hanging around what it means when the planets align is that Earth's gravity somehow changes, we'll all weigh a little less, and we'll temporarily float. Hate to break it to you (because that would be really cool), but this is one thing that is never going to happen.
And while we're on the topic of clearing up planetary alignment misconceptions, there cannot, will not be an earthquake at the San Andreas Fault so cataclysmic that it'll completely warp the state of California. Why? Simple. The warping and reshaping of the state is very, very gradual; it'll take several millions of years (as in 25.3 million years) for California to be unrecognizable from what we know today.
So, gentle readers, set your alarms (or stay awake the whole night, whatevs) and head outside to witness this rare, super neat planetary awesomeness. Rest assured that we'll all still wake up tomorrow in one piece.