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While working in a Maasai area in Southern Kenya in the late 90s, we witnessed another conjunction of Venus and Jupiter rather like the one that's been in the news and our skies this past few weeks. It was March 1998 and Venus passed within 2.2 degrees of Jupiter. It happened at a time when that part of Kenya was in a state of serious drought – the Maasai cattle were dropping like flies and overgrazing was causing severe damage to the fragile volcanic soil. Dust hung permanently in the air. At the time, despite the seriousness of the drought, I remember the Maasai seemed to have confidence in two things – the first was that the rains would be good that year, the second, that no rain would come until the two planets actually crossed. As it turned out they were correct on both counts.
So I find myself wondering – in a rather unscientific way – if perhaps there’s a connection between the heat wave we’ve just enjoyed in the UK, the fact that Jupiter and Venus recently crossed, and the fact that our heat wave has since been replaced by winter storms. Not enough for a thesis perhaps - or to avert a hosepipe ban, but enough to make me wonder what else the Maasai know that we don’t.