To understand how little Mercury retrograde impacts life on Earth, it helps to learn the physical process behind the phenomenon. When the planet nearest to the sun is retrograde, it appears to move "backwards" east to west rather than west to east across the sky. This apparent reversal in Mercury's orbit is actually just an illusion to the people viewing it from Earth.
Picture Mercury and Earth circling the sun like cars on a racetrack. A year on Mercury is shorter than a year on Earth 88 Earth days compared to , which means Mercury experiences four years in the time it takes us to finish one solar loop. When the planets are next to one another on the same side of the sun, Mercury looks like it's moving east to those of us on Earth.
But when Mercury overtakes Earth and continues its orbit, its straight trajectory seems to change course. According to Dr.
Hammergren, it's just a trick of perspective. Earth's orbit isn't identical to that of any other planet in the solar system, which means that all the planets appear to move backwards at varying points in time.
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Planets farther from the sun than Earth have even more noticeable retrograde patterns because they're visible at night. But thanks to astrology, it's Mercury's retrograde motion that incites dread every few months. Hammergren blames the superstition attached to Mercury, and astrology as a whole, on confirmation bias: "[Believers] will say, 'Aha!
See, there's a shake-up in my workplace because Mercury's retrograde. They'll likely find that misinterpreted messages and technical problems are fairly common throughout the year. But as Dr. Hammergren says, when things go wrong and Mercury isn't retrograde, "we don't get that hashtag.
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