Jupiter steps into the scales: This week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

May 8, 2018

This image from www.earthsky.org shows Jupiter stepping into the Libran scales, where they’re marked over the southeast horizon by their alpha star, Zubenelgenubi.
Credit earthsky.org

Jupiter comes to its annual opposition with the Sun this week, a king among gods, who’s appearing these nights as though he were stepping into the southern tray of the scales in the constellation Libra. Such a set up begs for a tale from “The Storyteller’s Night Sky” so here’s one!


“Long ago there lived a rich merchant who, besides possessing more treasures than any king in the world, had in a his great hall three chairs, one of silver, one of gold, and one of diamonds. But his greatest treasure of all was his only daughter, who was called Catherine.

“One day Catherine was sitting in her own room when suddenly the door flew open, and in came a tall and beautiful woman holding in her hands a little wheel.

“‘Catherine,’ she said, going up the the girl, ‘which would you rather have~a happy youth or a happy old age?’”

It turns out that this woman was Catherine’s destiny, and because Catherine decided she would rather bear trouble now and have her happily ever after later, her circumstances took a dramatic fairy tale turn, and she lost everything. Catherine had to wander through the world for years, seeking to be of service to others. But every time she found a suitable position, her destiny appeared, and chased her away.

This fate hounded Catherine for years, until finally the destiny of Catherine’s mistress asked on her behalf whether it was time for her happy old age to begin. Catherine’s destiny responded with the gift of a ball of silk thread, which Catherine could hardly believe was apt recompense for all she had suffered. But then, it was announced that the king would marry, and the tailors had run out of thread for the fine wedding clothes.  A great reward was being offered to anyone who could produce the thread in the exact color needed. It was determined that the reward would be the thread’s weight in gold.

But King Jupiter himself stepping into the starry scales this week is a clue to the true outcome for dear Catherine, and for all of us who seek happily ever after.