The last one was in 2002 when Jupiter resided in the constellation Gemini the Twins and was acting as their third brother to form the “Triplets.” Jupiter has an orbit of 12 years around the sun that means he travels each sign of the zodiac per year and completes a round in 12 years.
It was during the summer vacation of 1978 when Fumie first saw this “Triplets.” She was then a high school girl starting to face the answer-less question of the real world. She had books, friends, music and stars for her companions to deal with the situation; she was perhaps looking for a place to rest.
She often read day and night and when looking outside, Jupiter was rising following Castor and Pollux, the Twins, all three forming a straight line just above the north-eastern horizon in the brightening morning sky. To her weary eyes the golden luster of the Mighty God Jupiter looked as if he had been forgiving everything.
The next conjunction was in 1990. She was working toward her meteorology degree at Oswego State as well as taking care of this haphazardly-started wine business. She was busy all summer long thus had no chance to see the sight.
By the way, why summer for the winter constellation Gemini?
The lineup of the three occurs when Jupiter is passing the Twins toward Cancer the Crab, the next sign of the zodiac. Because of the planet’s orbital properties, it can only happen when they ascend in late summer. The heavenly schedule is much more precise than we imagine.
Then came 2002… she raised her hopes for the event as she remembered the bad luck of 1990. But it turned out to be another disappointment and she was depressed for a while.
Sometime in the middle of August last year she suddenly woke up early in the morning. It was still dark so she walked up to a window to look outside: that is just the second nature of a long-time stargazer. She peeked out with probably only one eye open then got startled. There was the “Triplets” right there. “It shouldn’t be this year!” After being startled, in the next moment she realized it was Saturn, not Jupiter. But it brought her some cheer; how nice it would have been if she could have seen this 2 years ago! There was brilliant Venus not far from Saturn adding grace to the scene.
So now Saturn is in Gemini passing by the Twins to be the “Triplets” for a while again this summer. Fumie opened her astronomy book and found that Saturn’s orbital period is 29 years. She thought for a moment and pulled out the oldest “book” of her poetry to surprise herself by finding a mention of the same event 29 years ago. She had officially started her composition, largely a form of poetry, a year before then and wonders if she will see this again 29 years from now.
It was well into fall by the time she saw Jupiter for the first time in the later viewing season of 2002. Being out longer in the evening through the night for the busy harvest time brought her the opportunity. It was a scintillating yellow light while climbing through the treetops. But once it cleared the obstacles along the horizon, there was no doubt that the golden sparkle was Jupiter himself. He was already in Cancer the Crab, approaching to another celestial spectacle, the Beehive open cluster.
The life wasn’t easy then. But it doesn’t mean that it is better now. Unanswered questions are still here. And Jupiter, of course, remains silent.
“Though you have already advanced your step; the mighty God, you are there still smiling.”
She went back inside and noted in her book.