The first image of Mercury obtained from orbit photographed by the Messenger. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)

But it also means — according to believers — that pandemonium will ensue.

“The best advice I can give you,” says astrologer Angela Nicastro, “is, ‘Stop and stand still.’ ”

What does this mean for the D.C. area? Much the same as it does for the rest of the world.

Believers blame Mercury in retrograde for computer and telephone malfunctions, traffic and road rage.

“Already I’m seeing an effect on drivers out there,” says Melissa Abell, an ad account exec at the Washington Post and a local astrologer. “And Metro riders need to be prepared for delays.”

Abell also says there could be an increase in local crime, and suggests the recent spate of shootings in Prince George’s County last weekend are one indication of an impending retrograde. “People are going to be looking for a fight and not know why,” she says.

According to Nicastro, already erratic weather on the East Coast could see even more fluctuations.

“It will be 25 degrees one day and the next it will be 75,” she says.

Mercury goes into retrograde three times every year, meaning we spend about 11 weeks out of every year allegedly battling the effects. Even after we get through this period on April 23, we have two more retrogrades (Aug. 2 to 26 and Nov. 23 to Dec. 13) to look forward to.

Photos: NASA releases images of Mercury’s surface

More: Read your horoscope

Tell us: Got any Mercury in retrograde disasters? Share your stories in the comments below.

Mercury retrograde ends