Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March Lamb

Finally, and just in the nick of time, gentler weather has arrived so that March can go out in the prescribed manner **.

Crocus corner

Crocuses in a corner, tulips in a row.

Tulip row

** In the evening at the beginning of March, Leo the Lion rises in the east just after dusk to bring March in.

After the vernal equinox, the Sun is in Aries the Ram (lamb), the first sign of the zodiac. Therefore, at the end of March "the lamb" is setting in the west at dusk, and taking March out with it.

So from an astronomical point of view, the saying more correctly would be, "March comes in with the lion, and out with the lamb." However in this case meteorology trumps astronomy and so we say, "March comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb."


Joe Willis said...

Sounds more like astrology. Joe

Sierrosmith said...

Astrology like other non-sciences would have one "believe" that the lion and lamb in the sky cause the turbulent weather in March. There certainly is both a correlation and a causal relationship between the position and relative motion of the Sun in the sky at this time of year and the weather. However the fact that astromoners use the same terms as astrologers to describe the positions and movements we observe does not diminish the science nor does it give credence to the mythology.

Joe Willis said...

Well said, and I apologize for my curt comment. Joe

Sierrosmith said...

No apology needed, it did sound like astrology.
A while ago my doppelgänger blogged about science and beliefs here. On the other hand, I can (and do occasionally in class) argue that once upon a time in some place or other, some of the predictive human behavioral aspects now associated with astrology may have made some sense.

Briefly, the reasoning goes like this: A key driver in the development of astronomy was the need to predict the future. To know, for example, when to plant in the Spring - not too early and not too late - so that you would have something to harvest in the Fall. Since the motions of the objects in the sky proved to be reliable predictors for this purpose, why not observe and gather data to see if they could also predict human "futures"? Now, if you assume a genetically homogeneous population with a diet and living conditions that varied regularly and greatly with the seasons, then it is not too far-fetched to have found that the time-of-year when someone was born did indeed have a noticeable and real correlation with their growth and development, both physical and mental. Ergo, the stars predicted things about people! (And the Pygmalion effect likely would have strengthened the belief in it.)

Of course with any perturbation in any of these narrow assumptions, you come back to the "Why vs. How" essay mentioned above.