Mercury Retrograde Shadow Period

Mercury retrograde is when it looks like Mercury is moving backward in the sky. According to my astrology girlies on TikTok, it usually brings communication mix-ups, travel delays, and technology troubles.

illustration of a muscular man dressed as sailor mercury from sailor moon anime
just a quick draw of a man dressed as sailor mercury because I need a cover art for this post

Weren't we just in a retrograde? I swear, these events happen closer and closer to each other. Astrologers say we can expect Mercury to retrograde three or four times a year, lasting three weeks each time. On average, there is approximately one Mercury retrograde period every three to four months but the timing can vary.

We are in a shadow period of Mercury retrograde. This is like a preview and a review. During the preview part, the effects of Mercury retrograde can start showing up, but not as strong. After the retrograde, during the review part, the effects can still linger a bit before things go back to normal.

From an astronomer's perspective, Mercury retrograde doesn't actually involve Mercury moving backward in its orbit around the Sun. Instead, it's an optical illusion caused by the relative positions of Mercury, Earth, and the Sun.

Here's what's happening:

  1. Orbital Speeds: Mercury orbits the Sun at a faster pace than Earth does. When Earth passes Mercury in its orbit, it can appear as though Mercury is moving backward in the sky. This is similar to passing a slower car on the highway; for a moment, it seems like the slower car is moving backward relative to your own motion.
  2. Apparent Retrograde Motion: As Earth overtakes Mercury in its orbit, it creates the illusion of Mercury moving backward, even though it's still moving forward in its orbit around the Sun.
  3. Observation from Earth: Because we observe celestial objects from Earth's perspective, this apparent retrograde motion of Mercury can affect astrological interpretations. It's believed to influence communication, travel, and technology, although there's no scientific evidence supporting these claims.
The lack of scientific evidence doesn't mean there is no truth to the claim that Mercury retrograde affects communication. I treat astrology much like I treat the advice of an older relative - they know enough about me but not that well, and they've lived long enough to have a lot of experience in life to recognize event patterns. 

So if this and next week are the shadow period for the next Mercury retrograde, which is on Apil 1 - 25, 2024 (the next ones are on August 5-28, and November 25 - December 15), then it's important to pay attention to themes that are happening.