Dec 24 2012

Merry Christmas 2012 !

Christmas is an official national holiday in the United States and the day that Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Christ about 2000 years ago.

This year we are being treated to a heavenly sky show involving a dance between the most spectacular planet in the sky — Jupiter — and our favorite satellite — the Moon — which are less than 2 degrees apart on Christmas evening. Click HERE for details.

The Moon and Jupiter are two of the closest friends the Earth has ever had!
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(Courtesy D.A. Seal/JPL)

As you enjoy this cosmic Christmas spectacle, keep in mind that the Moon and Jupiter are credited with playing major roles in making Earth habitable for humans!

For example, Earth’s axial tilt of 23.5 degrees — which produces the annual seasons — is anchored by the Moon’s gravity. In its absence our axial tilt would chaotically vary from 0 to 85 degrees, producing either no seasons and enlarged polar ice caps (for near-zero tilts) or winter-like snows near the equator (for larger tilts). This kind of climate instability would have made life for early humans (i.e., ~200,000 years ago) much more difficult, if not impossible.

Jupiter is traditionally viewed as a comet deflector stationed in the outer solar system, but recent studies indicate its role has been much more proactive and nuanced. For example, its mass and position are apparently tuned to deliver just the right amount of water to Earth (to form its oceans) via ancient asteroid impacts — too much and the continents would have been covered by water and too little and life could not have flourished. Always the cosmic guardian, other asteroids apparently targeted by Jupiter caused mass extinctions on Earth, including the most famous one 65 million years ago that took out the dinosaurs, paving the way eventually for humans.

However, now that the dinosaurs are ancient history and Earth has plenty of water we take a dimmer view of potential Jupiter-inspired asteroid extinction events on Earth. Far from making Jupiter a villain in disguise as some have recently suggested, it appears that Jupiter is continuing in its nurturing/protective role for humanity by encouraging us to learn how to mitigate cosmic threats to Earth by expanding into space.

This process is being accelerated by the approaching transformative Maslow Window, expected to arrive by mid-decade.

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