The Rare Triple Conjunction of 2020 

by Gary P. Caton

For almost the entire year of 2020, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto are all within about ten degrees of each other in Sagittarius/Capricorn. This means that if you extend your fist to arm’s length against the sky, it will cover all three planets. Perusing the historical records, I can find only one other instance where these three planets came together this closely and it happened to be in this same part of the sky. 

One theme emerges from the four alignments of these three that occured over the last century.  In my opinion, I found a theme centered around the beginnings of political dynasties. For instance, the last time these three came together this closely (which also happened to be in front of Sagittarius and Capricorn) was the year 1285, which was during the lifetime of Osman I, the first Ottoman Sultan and founder of the Ottoman Empire, which lasted into the 20th Century. 

The next time Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto came together was in 1444, though only within about 16 degrees, in front of the constellation Gemini. A pair of twins, Cosimo and Damian de Medici were named after Saints Cosmas and Damian, two early Christian martyrs. By 1444, Cosimo de Medici’s power over Florence, Italy, was such that he was able to build the first public library. As historian Edward Gibbon put it: “[Cosimo was] the father of a line of princes, whose name and age are almost synonymous with the restoration of learning.” The Medici dynasty’s patronage of the arts is still seen the foundation to the Renaissance Era and extended to Galileo’s time (1564-1642).

The next time Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto conjoined was in 1583, again only within about 16 degrees, this time in front of the constellations Aquarius and Pisces. This was an important time in the founding of the British Empire, the largest empire in history. In 1583, Humphrey Gilbert claimed Newfoundland for England and a year later the first British colony was founded in North America on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. 

The last time these planets came together was recent and close. In 1980, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto were within about 10 degrees of each other and they were in front of the constellation Virgo. Because of this recurring pattern of the founding of political dynasties during these particular triple conjunctions, it could be that some of the events of this time take on more importance than we might otherwise attribute. During that same year, Tim Berners Lee wrote the software project ENQUIRE, a predecessor to the World Wide Web, which he went on to found ten years later. The subsequent explosion of the Information Technology sector and the ability to store, manipulate and mine data have greatly transformed the world and this technological boom has ramifications in many other facets of society.  

So, how can we apply this knowledge of historical trends to the work of a biodynamic farmer? It seems to me that stewardship of the land can and perhaps should be remembered as the first and most important kind of dynasty. Wasn’t this always the traditional view? The only dynasty most of us will ever belong to is that of family and the land that sustains it. Perhaps we can begin to fashion legal structures similar to land trusts or conservancies that keep family farms from being preyed upon by larger corporate interests. I see this happening in my local area where the re-routing of the Appalachian Trail in the 1950’s led to the formation of the Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy in 1974 and from there the establishment of a Farmlands Conservation Program in 2005. I have to imagine that this is going on elsewhere as well, and that we can ramp up these activities this year to take advantage of these cosmic energies.

Another idea that seems to go along with the founding of dynasties is as simple as tree planting. A recent article in the journal Science argues that “restoration of trees remains among the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation.”  The authors estimate that Earth’s ecosystems can support about a billion additional hectares of forest and that this can cut the atmospheric carbon by 25%. Armed with this information, farmers might initiate programs to re-plant forests on their land and hold workshops to invite the community to participate in purchasing and planting young trees. How many people will welcome an opportunity to feel like they’ve made their own personal contribution to a dynasty that can actually help heal the planet? And the relationships formed in this way can also sustain us. People will come out yearly or quarterly to visit their own personal tree in a restored forest. There can be family groves where people come to picnic or camp. 

By reestablishing these stewardship tasks, we will leave a dynasty of healing the relationship between humans and nature, which can extend to all aspects of the planet.

Gary P. Caton - Astronomer, Writer, Forecaster

Growing up in a rural setting outside Leesburg, Virginia, Gary developed passions for gardening and farming early in life and has lived on working farms.

In 1993 Gary was initiated into the planetary mysteries by seeing alignments in a dream. His deep love of nature fuels his enthusiasm for stargazing and astrophotography. Gary claims it has been a true joy combining his lifelong passion for learning with the tasks of completing the calculations and contributing to the forecasts for this calendar. Based on more than two decades of experience, he incorporates several new elements into this text, including consideration of the sextile aspect and a look at the deeper mysteries of the retrograde loops of Venus and Mars.

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