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Mercury in Retrograde: Is it written in the stars for the Ethereum Merge?

By Alara Jordan

Edited by Charlie Mellor

09:27, 15 September 2022

Ethereum coin
Photo: Shutterstock

The launch date for crypto’s most anticipated update has been ‘right around the corner’ for a while now. The launch of ETH 2.0 – also known as The Merge – has been promised by developers to take place for a few years now.  

However, Ethereum’s closely-watched blockchain upgrade completed earlier on Thursday, said co-founder Vitalik Buterin, just before 08:00 BST (UTC +1) in a tweet, adding that the shift would reduce worldwide electricity consumption by 0.2%.

The date of 15 September will be significant in the industry as it follows the success of the Goerli Testnet merge, the third and final testnet merge required to take place before the official Merge of the Ethereum mainnet. 

The Bellatrix hard fork, the latest upgrade before the move to proof-of-stake (PoS), was also activated last week on the 6 September. 

ETH 2.0: What is it and why does it matter?

Ethereum will transition from proof-of-work (PoW) to the proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism in a bid to upgrade the way the Ethereum blockchain verifies transactions. 

This shift is significant as it represents the Ethereum Mainnet system and the Beacon Chain coming together, with proof-of-work being replaced permanently by proof-of-stake.

Ethereum has been using the proof-of-work mechanism since 2015, but has faced a myriad of functionality issues due to the platform being associated with several different decentralised applications (DApps) and the proof-of-work operations slowing down the system with the more people that use it.

The Merge is a promising upgrade to the way the Ethereum blockchain will verify transactions and address the deeper concerns around the environmental impact of proof-of-work concepts that aim to reduce energy consumption and remove extensive mining needs.

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Mercury rides in retrograde: What’s the significance?

Is there any significance between Mercury and The Merge? Since 9 September 2022, Mercury has gone into retrograde for the second time this year – a transition period that occurs three to four times a year and is widely perceived as the backwards motion of the planet Mercury as it orbits the Earth. 

This period of cosmic retrograde typically correlates with increased disruptions and issues around communications, travel and technology. There’s unnecessary drama, sure, as the weeks in retrograde typically represent a ripe opportunity for small hiccups to appear on the horizon. 

While The Merge is planned to take place during a period of presumed disruptions, crypto enthusiasts have speculated that possibile hiccups could occur with the launch – voicing concerns that it might launch earlier than expected or that The Merge could be followed by unforeseen issues or errors, based on previous Ethereum software updates. 

But if you’re wondering what the cosmic consequences have to do with Vitalik’s ability to successfully launch The Merge, the answer is simply nothing. 

The Ethereum Foundation website says: “Imagine Ethereum is a spaceship that isn’t quite ready for an interstellar voyage. With the Beacon Chain the community has built a new engine and a hardened hull. When it’s time, the current ship will dock with this new system, merging into one ship, ready to put in some serious light years and take on the universe.”

No doubt stargazers will keep an eye on the outcome of The Merge during this delicate period of universal retrograde. 

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The difference between trading assets and CFDs
The main difference between CFD trading and trading assets, such as commodities and stocks, is that you don’t own the underlying asset when you trade on a CFD.
You can still benefit if the market moves in your favour, or make a loss if it moves against you. However, with traditional trading you enter a contract to exchange the legal ownership of the individual shares or the commodities for money, and you own this until you sell it again.
CFDs are leveraged products, which means that you only need to deposit a percentage of the full value of the CFD trade in order to open a position. But with traditional trading, you buy the assets for the full amount. In the UK, there is no stamp duty on CFD trading, but there is when you buy stocks, for example.
CFDs attract overnight costs to hold the trades (unless you use 1-1 leverage), which makes them more suited to short-term trading opportunities. Stocks and commodities are more normally bought and held for longer. You might also pay a broker commission or fees when buying and selling assets direct and you’d need somewhere to store them safely.
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