There I was two days ago, lying in a heap in bed, listening to the early morning news, slowly coming round, hand clutching a cup of tea. Situation normal in our house, of a morning. Then my ears pricked up.
According to BBC Radio 4, the first stone of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) had been ceremoniously laid only the previous day – on May 26, 2017. The ELT is an astronomical observatory and the world’s largest optical/near-infrared extremely large telescope now under construction. Part of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), it is located on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. (2)
Along with – probably – countless others like me (and not a few fellow astrologers, I bet!) not coming from a scientific background but with a lifelong interest in science, I had been following the progress of this project with great interest.
The ELT will tackle ‘…the biggest scientific challenges of our time, and aim for a number of notable firsts, including tracking down Earth-like planets around other stars in the “habitable zones” where life could exist — one of the Holy Grails of modern observational astronomy.
It will also perform ”stellar archaeology” in nearby galaxies, as well as make fundamental contributions to cosmology by measuring the properties of the first stars and galaxies and probing the nature of dark matter and dark energy. On top of this astronomers are also planning for the unexpected — new and unforeseeable questions will surely arise (my emphases) from the new discoveries made with the ELT. The ELT may, eventually, revolutionise our perception of the Universe, much as Galileo’s telescope did, 400 years ago…’ (1)
Approval for this stunning project came through on 11 June 2012, with construction work on the site starting in June 2014. By December 2014, over 90% of the total funding had been secured. The first stone of the telescope was ceremoniously laid on May 26, 2017. (2)
Now – here is the bit that made me sit bolt upright, almost spilling my tea:
First light, ie the first use of a telescope (or, in general, a new instrument) to take an astronomical image after it has been constructed, is currently planned for – 2024…(2)…
Yes, 2024, the year that Pluto fully enters Aquarius after dipping in and out of that sign during its slow exit from Capricorn in 2013/4.The two statements ‘… probing the nature of dark matter and dark energy…’ and ‘… planning for the unexpected — new and unforeseeable questions will surely arise…’ could hardly be more appropriate summaries of the essence of this momentous planetary shift of the most symbolically powerful, transformative planet Pluto into Aquarius: the most scientifically oriented, unpredictable, revolutionary sign of the zodiac.
This entry of Pluto into Aquarius represents a major stage in a lengthy process of radical change for our world which I summarised very briefly in a recent post on this blog:
‘…Next up, Pluto shifts from Capricorn into Aquarius in 2024, beginning a long trine aspect to the 1892 Neptune/Pluto conjunction in Gemini. More air. The next Uranus/ Neptune conjunction, in 2165, will take place in early Aquarius, their first meeting in the air element for a thousand years.
Thus, since 1980, when the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction at 5-8 Libra entered the air element for the first time since its last entry in the twelfth century A.D, we have been moving gradually into an air-dominated era, with the sign of Aquarius in high focus. We are moving from an emphasis on material development and planetary exploitation which characterised the Industrial Revolution and the whole materialist culture arising, to one of global social development – that of ideas, information, communication, and relationships – expedited by technology, for the coming 200 years or so….’ (3)
By now, I was fully awake, excited – and once again awestruck by the powerful symbolic links between major steps taken in the human project for good or ill – usually both!! – and major planetary shifts. The first light of the Extremely Large Telescope in 2024 is just one bright strand in what will be a complex and intricate weave of all kinds of profound changes from 2024 onwards, which will usher in a radically different world from the one into which we Baby-Boomers were born… let’s hope the upcoming generations make a more constructive job of it than we have done.
700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017
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