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That Venus and Jupiter will be in conjunction this week could have been predicted long ago, perhaps even by Issac Newton. With modern techniques these conjunctions could be calculated for tens of thousands of years, or perhaps not. After all when there are more than three bodies in an astronomical calculation things get difficult in the long run, and with the Sun and quite a few other smaller bodies coming into the calculation things become impossible. Not long ago it was thought that if you knew the position and velocity of every particle in the Universe it would be possible to predict with perfect precision everything that would happen. Now even with super computers we can’t really predict even such simple systems as the conjunctions of two planets in a complex system into the distant future, and the problem of predicting everything becomes so obviously difficult as to be absurd multiplied with a vast number of zeros after it.

None of this type of astronomical event has any real effect on the creatures of the Earth, except for humans; and even with us it is only important because we like to think it is. I suspect there will be people linking this conjunction to the political events of this last week. The Supreme Court legalizing LGBTQ marriage may have some major long-term effects well outside of the United States. The pulling down of the Civil War Battle Flag of the South, because of the murder of nine people in a church in Charleston, is long overdue. It’s impossible to predict the future when it comes to symbolic social events. That is much harder than astronomical ones. The murder of a questionable heir to a defunct monarch became one of the major events of the 20th century.

Perhaps of more lasting importance, but it’s unlikely, is the flyby of the now demoted planet Pluto. It is hard to imagine anything Earth-shaking being discovered from this object totally invisible to the naked eye, four and a half light hours away. Even the Sun is only seven light minutes away, and that is not exactly close by human standards, but a remote ball of very cold gas doesn’t seem likely to maintain interest for very long.

A Google search didn’t turn up much that was unique for the year 2015.

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