In the second installment of our study of the northern sky, we will investigate another set of circumpolar stars. To review, circumpolar stars are those that circle one of Earth’s poles, never sinking below the horizon. This month, we will turn our gaze to the Big Dipper, an asterism within the constellation Ursa Major. The Big Dipper is one of the most well-known celestial patterns, with four stars forming a square (the bowl) and three additional stars arching outward to form the handle. In the early evening darkness, the Big Dipper can be found low on the northern horizon, ascending bowl-first. It culminates near midnight, when the bowl hangs upside down, spilling its contents. In the early morning hours, the asterism scoops downward, with the bowl now appearing beneath the handle. If one braves the cold throughout the night, the circular nature of the Big Dipper’s movement can be seen.
The new year starts with one of the most intense and powerful astrological events of recent years. On Jan. 12, Saturn and Pluto perfect their conjunction in Capricorn. This is the only time they will do so, despite being in close proximity to one another throughout all of 2019 and 2020. This is the first time the two have met since November 1982, when the two planets formed an exact conjunction in the sign of Libra. This event is especially potent given that Saturn is the ruler of Capricorn. Saturn and Pluto present an interesting dynamic, the former representing authority and the latter, power. Pluto is the resources available to us beneath the surface, like diamonds and oil and other materials we mine. Saturn, meanwhile, is the time and pressure required to form those materials into a usable commodity. Less tangibly, Pluto relates to the emotional drive of our desires, while Saturn represents the self-discipline required to harness that passionate energy for a productive purpose. In their conjunction, we are faced with the force of raw vitality, and how to utilize it to manifest a functional form. History shows the importance of these planetary meetings. Power struggles dominate, as this aspect serves to highlight integrity and expose corruption, restructuring how and to whom resources are distributed. The beginnings of both World War I and the Cold War aligned with Saturn-Pluto conjunctions. This is a period of cosmic auditing, requiring us to bring our balance sheet into proper order.