In 2020, Jupiter and Pluto will conjoin in late Capricorn, so I wanted to take a look back at previous Jupiter-Pluto hard aspects to get a sense of their archetypal signature. When I did this I found a remarkable pattern that fits the combined archetypes of Jupiter and Pluto somewhat literally: the development of telescopes and microscopes, facilitating the exploration of the macrocosm and the microcosm.
In theory, we know that Jupiter in astrology is the expansive planet of wisdom and knowledge, big picture thinking and the broadening of horizons. Pluto is a planet of extremes. The late great astrologer Alan White used to say that “Pluto makes big things small and small things big“, which is the essence of what an extreme is. Microscopes magnify extremely small things, and telescopes magnify extremely distant things. Appropriately, the times of major Jupiter-Pluto aspects have coincided with times when the vistas of discovery extended to impossibly small and impossibly large scales, and are often brought about by people who themselves were born at significant axes of the Jupiter-Pluto cycle.
I traced a chronology spanning over 400 years which clearly shows how the telescope and microscope were developed at successive Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions and oppositions, but it’s too unwieldy to publish in an article. Instead I’m going to focus on 5 of what I think are some of the most impressive and literal examples of the Jupiter-Pluto complex in action, along with my thoughts on what we might be able to expect from the upcoming 2020 Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions in Capricorn at the end.
5. Johannes Kepler’s Epiphanies
1571-1572 Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions at 22° Pisces
Johannes Kepler Born
Johannes Kepler was born on December 27th 1571, less than 3 weeks before the early 1572 Jupiter-Pluto conjunction in Pisces. What makes this example so interesting is the fact that Kepler came from a time when Pluto was unknown, and so he would not have been aware of this conjunction to his natal Jupiter, just that it was fortunately placed in its domicile of Pisces. At each subsequent Jupiter-Pluto conjunction, Kepler’s insights would profoundly broaden humanity’s view of the skies.
Johannes Kepler presents a kind of contradiction for modern science since his monumental contributions to astronomy were guided by his work in astrology and his theological or otherwise enchanted view of the universe. It was all part of one cohesive perspective, and it was precisely these “non-scientific” interests which propelled his scientific advances. Carl Sagan referred to him as “the first astrophysicist and the last scientific astrologer”. We will see this theme reappear with some other Jupiter-Pluto pioneers.
One of his most significant works was his first, Mysterium Cosmographicum, which was when Kepler first proposed his geometrical model of the solar system. He thought he had revealed God’s design of the universe. He attributed this to an epiphany on July 19th 1595 as Jupiter was approaching Uranus and Pluto in Aries, and the book was published in “late 1596”. The Jupiter-Pluto conjunction itself perfected on April 14th 1956. The particularly revelatory nature of this conjunction is reflected by the addition of Uranus to the Jupiter-Pluto conjunction. This is the same conjunction under which Rene Descartes was born.
1608 Jupiter-Pluto conjunction at 1° Taurus
Kepler writes Somnium and invents the Keplerian Telescope
In 1608, Kepler wrote a novel called Somnium. The book describes a dream he had about people who travel to the Moon and imagines what the sky would look like from the lunar surface, to prove the universal applicability of his astronomical principles. Some consider this to be the first work of science fiction. While we don’t know when in 1608 he wrote this book, the Jupiter-Pluto conjunction perfected on May 19th 1608 and was in close proximity to Pluto that entire year. What’s particularly interesting about this event is that while this is the year Kepler wrote the book, the book itself was not published until after his death. Also in 1608, Kepler devised his own telescope, the distinct design of which would come to be known as a Keplerian telescope. The very next year he released the first book explaining his Laws of Planetary Motion.
1620-1621 Jupiter-Pluto Conjunctions at 11°-13° Taurus
Kepler completes his Three Laws of Planetary Motion
From 1620-1621, Kepler published the final two volumes in his work that would be most influential for modern astronomy: Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae. In this work he completed his Three Laws of Planetary Motion, namely that planetary orbits are ellipses around the Sun rather than circles, that planets travel faster when they are closer to the Sun, and that a planet’s orbital period is determined by its distance from the Sun, with a lot more math. Isaac Newton would later use these three laws as proof of his own laws of motion and gravitation.
1632-1633 Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions at 23°-24° Taurus
Kepler’s Somnium Posthumously Prepared for Publication
Johannes Kepler died in 1630 at his second Saturn return, and so after his death, his work Somnium was finally published in 1634. Somnium was edited and printed by his son and his son-in-law between 1630 and 1634, which means that the Jupiter-Pluto conjunction would have coincided with when Kepler’s unpublished work was being revisited, which is peculiar because it was written during a previous Jupiter-Pluto conjunction.
4. The Discovery of the Microcosm
1589/1590 Jupiter-Pluto Oppositions at 11°-14° Libra/Aries
The Invention of the Microscope
Two Dutch spectacle makers, Zaccharias Janssen and his son Hans experimented with lenses in a tube in 1590, discovering that nearby objects appeared larger. Zaccharias is generally credited as the inventor of the compound microscope and the first telescope. While we don’t know the exact date in 1590, the two Jupiter-Pluto opppositions in 1590 perfected in April and August, making it more likely that the invention of the microscope occurred while Jupiter and Pluto were in close opposition.
1632-1633 Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions at 23°-24° Taurus
“Father of Microscopy” Born
Anton van Leeuwenhoek is often considered the “father of microscopy” or the “father of microbiology”. He was born on October 24th 1632, just a week after one of Jupiter’s 3 conjunctions to Pluto in 1632. Like Kepler, his strictly scientific method dovetailed with his religious faith. He continually marveled at his discovery of microscopic life in religious terms, considering them to be more evidence that God made all creatures great and small.
1657 Jupiter-Pluto conjunction at 17° Gemini
Van Leeuwenhoek Becomes First Person to Observe Microscopic Life
We do not know exactly when in 1657 Van Leeuwenhoek first observed microscopic life, but we do have a quote from him that specifies the year: “In the year of 1657 I discovered very small living creatures in rain water. Whenever I found out anything remarkable, I have thought it my duty to put down my discovery on paper, so that all ingenious people might be informed thereof.” The Jupiter-Pluto conjunction was exact on June 4th 1657, and Jupiter was within 19° of Pluto the entire duration of 1657.
1663 Jupiter-Pluto Opposition at 24° Sagittarius/Gemini
Robert Hooke Popularizes Microscopic Images
Sometime in 1663, Robert Hooke began drawing detailed pictures of insects viewed microscopically for his massively influential book Micrographia published in January 1665, which introduced the microscopic world to the public and triggered public interest in microscopy. He also coined the term ‘cell’ after observing them in cork under a microscope.
1838-1839 Jupiter-Pluto Oppositions at 15°-18° Libra/Aries
Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann Formulate Cell Theory
In 1838 Schleiden and Schwann compare notes and jointly devise fundamental tenets of microbiology known as the Cell Theory, namely that all living organisms are composed of one or more cells and that the cell is the most basic unit of life and come from other cells. In 1839, Schleiden published the Cell Theory in what is considered to be a foundational text of modern microbiology: Mikroskopische Untersuchungen über die Uebereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen.
1930-1931 Jupiter-Pluto Conjunction at 19°-20° Cancer
Invention of the Electron Microscope
On March 9th 1931, Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska made the first practical demonstration of an electron microscope which would eventually be able to magnify objects millions of times closer than conventional microscopes. This happened as Jupiter was approaching Pluto in Cancer. The electron microscope was patented on May 30th 1931, just 3 days from the exact Jupiter-Pluto conjunction in Cancer.
As we’ve seen from previous examples, not only did the electron microscope come from a Jupiter-Pluto conjunction, but the inventors were also born in proximity to major Jupiter-Pluto aspects. Max Knoll was born on July 27th 1897, within one month of the 1897 Jupiter-Pluto waxing square. Ernst Ruska was born on December 25th 1906, within 6 months of the 1906 Jupiter-Pluto conjunction in Gemini, which perfected while he was in utero.
3. Georges Lemaître and the Big Bang Theory
Georges Lemaitre’s Primeval Atom/Big Bang Theory is a fairly straightforward description of the Jupiter-Pluto dynamic of extremely small things becoming extremely big: that all matter in the universe was compressed into an infinitesimally small point until exploding into all directions, stretching out time and space itself at an accelerating pace. It is based on the observation of the universe’s accelerating expansion.
1894 Jupiter-Neptune-Pluto Conjunction at 9°-12° Gemini
Georges Lemaitre Born
Georges Lemaître was born on July 17th 1894, just two months after the 1894 Jupiter-Pluto conjunction in Gemini. This Jupiter-Pluto conjunction was also conjunct Neptune, giving it a boundless and ethereal quality. Like Kepler and Leeuwenhoek, Lemaître was a man of ostensible contradictions: a Catholic priest, a man of faith as well as a scientist, a man of religious and materialist reasoning. The central irony of his life is that although he believed in a divine origin for the universe, he proposed the Big Bang Theory which is used an argument against a divine creation.
1925 Jupiter-Pluto Oppositions at 11°-14° Capricorn/Cancer
Lemaître Begins Writing About the Universe’s Expansion
Central to the Big Bang Theory is Lemaître’s observation that the universe is not static as Einstein initially proposed, but expanding. Lemaître began writing his famous paper sometime in the year 1925, while Jupiter and Pluto were in opposition for a vast majority of the year. While this observation was credited to Edwin Hubble, Georges Lemaître beat him to the punch by 2 years when he finally published his paper in 1927. Lemaître’s paper went by virtually unnoticed until it was translated into English in 1931.
1930-1931 Jupiter-Pluto Conjunction at 19°-20° Cancer
Lemaître Proposes the “Primeval Atom” Theory
In 1931, Lemaître’s astounding observation about the universe’s expansion finally got some press when astronomer Arthur Eddington enthusiastically reviewed his paper, and it was translated into English in the same year. This was the same year he proposed that because the universe is expanding, that the universe could have begun expanding from a single point, a “Primeval Atom”. He outlined this theory in his 1931 papers “The Beginning of the World from the Point of View of Quantum Theory” and “The Primeval Atom – an Essay on Cosmogony“. This Jupiter-Pluto conjunction was in proximity to Lemaître’s natal Sun position. Years later a skeptic of his theory labeled it as the “Big Bang Theory“, which has held fast in the popular consciousness ever since.
Interestingly, Cancer is a sign associated with nature, life, bios, the “home” of our world and our bodies, and it is the rising sign of the Thema Mundi, the mythical chart of the beginning of the world. It’s interesting then that this Jupiter-Pluto conjunction occurred in Cancer, which coincided with a scientific articulation of the beginning of the world.
2. Hubble Space Telescope
1968-1969 Jupiter-Uranus-Pluto Conjunction at 23° Virgo-3° Libra
Moon Landing and Dawn of Space Telescopes
This was a very significant Jupiter-Pluto conjunction because it was also so close to Uranus. This would signify a time not only characterized by an extremely empowered Jupiter to explore new vistas but also of radical liberation. It’s under this Jupiter-Uranus-Pluto configuration that humanity broke free for the first time from the surly bonds of the Earth and landed on the Moon, while Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto were all within 8 degrees of each other. The Moon landing on July 20th 1969 occurred while the Moon itself was conjunct Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto. That such a giant leap for humanity would occur at such an unusually rare and appropriate outer planetary configuration is a tremendous validation of astrological correspondences.
This was also when space agencies began formal plans to launch a space telescope, which would be able to operate beyond the limitations of Earth’s atmospheric conditions and see deeper into the cosmos than ever before. In 1969, the National Academy of Science released a report called the Scientific Uses of the Large Space Telescope, urging the construction of such an instrument. NASA soon got onboard.
1981 Jupiter-Pluto conjunction at 24 Libra
Hubble Space Telescope Begins Construction
On April 12th 1981, the first US Space Shuttle launched, at the precise Jupiter Return of the Moon Landing. Later on in the year when Jupiter was close to perfecting its conjunction with Pluto in Libra, construction of the Hubble Space Telescope began. Little did they know that there would be an error in the grinding of the telescope’s mirror that would cause it not to work once it arrived in space in 1990.
1994-1995 Jupiter-Pluto conjunction at 28 Scorpio
Hubble Telescope Produces First Images of Cosmic Marvels
This was a very rare Jupiter-Pluto conjunction because Pluto spends the least amount of time in Scorpio of all the signs. The defect in the Hubble Space Telescope’s mirror prevented it from producing any clear images for several years. In December 1993, as Jupiter began approaching Pluto in Scorpio, astronauts went into space to give the telescope “spectacles” to correct its vision. On January 13th 1994, NASA announced the problems with the telescope were finally fixed. Throughout 1994, the Hubble Space Telescope was able to produce sharp and clear phenomenal images of the most distant galaxies seen up to that point, including the famous “Pillars of Creation” photograph that emerged in early 1995.
What makes this example so compelling is that we might have expected the launch of the telescope to coincide with a major phase of the Jupiter-Pluto cycle, and yet it did not. It was not until the next Jupiter-Pluto conjunction that the telescope would be fixed and able to provide unimaginable images.
1. Discovery and Exploration of Pluto
I made this the final example of Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions just because of how weirdly literal and meta this example is. Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions seem to coincide with the discovery and exploration of Pluto itself.
1894 Jupiter-Neptune-Pluto conjunction at 9°-12° Gemini
Lowell Observatory Opens, Where Pluto was Discovered
Percival Lowell opened the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona on May 28th 1894, just 11 days after the Jupiter-Pluto conjunction perfected. In fact, the day it opened was during a Sun-Mercury-Jupiter-Neptune-Pluto stellium in Gemini. This is the observatory where Pluto would first be observed. This was the same conjunction Lemaître was born under, which also coincided with the explosion of stellar/astronomical photography.
Clyde Tombaugh was born on February 4th 1906. While his Jupiter and Pluto were 24 degrees apart on the day of his birth, which we would consider a very wide orb, in real time he was born under 5 months before the exact Jupiter-Pluto conjunction, and given the overall pattern with Jupiter-Pluto, he would seem to fit into that part of the cycle. Clyde Tombaugh was the astronomer who discovered Pluto.
1918 Jupiter-Pluto Conjunction at 18° Cancer
Venetia Burney Born, Namer of Pluto
Venetia Burney was not an astronomer. She was just a little girl at the time Pluto was discovered, but she was the one to propose the name “Pluto” for this new planet. She was born on July 11th 1918, which just happened to be within one month of the 1918 Jupiter-Pluto conjunction in Cancer. This story has been chronicled in documentaries and even a new children’s book.
1930-1931 Jupiter-Pluto Conjunctions at 19°-20° Cancer
The discovery of Pluto kicked off an international media frenzy and a flurry of scientific study about the new planet. Clyde Tombaugh’s initial discovery of Pluto on February 18th 1930 occurred as Jupiter was just under 8 months from its conjunction with Pluto. As the year progressed and Pluto was named by Venetia Burney, calculations were made about its mass and orbital period, and Pluto became part of popular culture (Pluto the dog became a Disney mascot late in 1930), this was all happening as the Jupiter-Pluto conjunction was becoming more exact. In a sense, Jupiter began studying Pluto and “welcomed” him in to the culture.
2007 Jupiter-Pluto conjunction at 28° Sagittarius
New Horizons Gets Gravity Assist from Jupiter on the way to Pluto
New Horizons was the NASA space probe designed to fly by Pluto, which delivered all kinds of data and crisp HD closeups of Pluto in July of 2015. In what has to be literally the most meta transit imaginable, Jupiter was approaching Pluto in Sagittarius when New Horizons was getting a gravity assist from Jupiter on its way to Pluto. Let’s say that again. The New Horizons probe only got to Pluto when it did because of a gravity assist from Jupiter, in the same timeframe as a longitudinal Jupiter-Pluto conjunction, geocentrically and heliocentrically. Talk about a meta transit!
But perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised by this, because the New Horizons team had to plan the launch of the probe around Jupiter’s approximate alignment with Pluto in order to take advantage of the gravity assist from Jupiter. The person who figured out the math behind using Jupiter to assist spacecraft to get to Pluto from Earth was Michael Minovitch, who personally consulted the New Horizons team on its launch strategy. Minovitch first released his paper on Jupiter gravity assists for Earth-Pluto missions in November-December 1994, which itself was in the precise timeframe of the December 1st 1994 Jupiter-Pluto conjunction in Scorpio! Space exploration is creating a weird new meeting point between astronomy and astrology.
My Thoughts on the 2020 Jupiter-Pluto Conjunctions at 22°-24° Capricorn
This Jupiter-Pluto conjunction should be somewhat distinct from ones in previous eras because Saturn is in the mix as well as being in Saturn’s own sign of Capricorn, so it should really be understood as a Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto conjunction. On April 5th 2020, Jupiter will be exactly conjunct Pluto at 24° Capricorn. Retrogradation gives us a 2nd conjunction at the same degree on June 29th 2020. The final conjunction occurs at 22° Capricorn on November 12th 2020. So Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto will all be in fairly close proximity for the vast majority of 2020. The last time Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto were this close in tropical Capricorn was 1894 BC. The next time will be in 2755 CE. So this is a pretty rare event.
If Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions typically expand the vistas of discovery and magnify things on cosmic and microcosmic scales, then the presence of Saturn suggests there will be some element of contraction, limits or boundaries on those scales. It should be a bit of a bummer in some way. Perhaps this is when we will reach an apparent limit to how far we can see into the cosmos or how far we can see into the microcosmos. A maximum resolution, a maximum magnification, a final end to a frontier of discovery. Perhaps someone will be discovering a boundary to the universe, discovering the “walls” of a cosmic prison. Maybe this is when space travel properly meets capitalism and becomes corporatized, and this will be considered some sort of beginning point for space tourism. Or perhaps it may revolve around another Saturnian concept like time, such as discovering a cosmic expiration date. After all, if the last Jupiter-Pluto conjunction in Cancer coincided with a novel theory of how the world began, perhaps this Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto conjunction in the opposite sign of Capricorn will coincide with a novel theory of how it all ends. Whoever it is that makes a big insight in this time will likely have been born at a major aspect of Jupiter and Pluto, especially the conjunctions. I guess we’ll see!