What the Stars Seek from Us

Astronomers are predicting a meteor shower overnight May 30, maybe. But for the Storyteller’s Night Sky, this is a prime opportunity for storytelling, whether the shower happens or not, and here’s why.

At the beginning of 2020 there were two phenomena that seem uniquely related to this potential shower: the star Betelgeuse in the shoulder of the giant went unusually dim, very quickly; and a comet was discovered that was named ATLAS.

In ancient mythology, Atlas is the Titan god who bears the pillars of the heav

The Hesperides, daughters of Atlas, in the garden protecting the tree that bears the golden apples. By Frederick, Lord Leighton, 1892

ens on his shoulders, but now the shoulder star had dimmed. Enter Hercules, who seeks the golden apples from the Hesperides. Hercules finds out that the Hesperides are the daughters of Atlas, so he goes to the giant seeking help. Atlas agrees to get the precious fruit, providing Hercules will hold the heavens up for a moment. And here’s the important part ~ Hercules, a hero and a son of Zeus, is certainly strong enough for this, but only for a while. As a human being, he really doesn’t have the ability to bear the heavens alone.

When Atlas returns, he foolishly tells Hercules he doesn’t want the pillars back, but as a human being, Hercules is craftier than the giant, and he tricks Atlas into taking them back, while he escapes with the golden apples.

So how is this related to what’s going on now?

If the meteor shower happens, it will radiate toward us from the constellation region of Hercules, so it’s like the stars asked humanity a question in 2020: Can you bear the pillars of the heavens for a while? If so, there’s a golden treasure that awaits. And now that Hercules is being activated in our attention, it’s our moment to realize that none of us need bear the burden of the world alone ~ there are forces that will help us, providing we are willing to help one another.

Hear this episode on Interlochen Public Radio and on my podcast, The Storyteller’s Night Sky.

Note that Hercules appears upside down overhead on May nights, as though his origins are among the stars (the “keystone” of Hercules is on a line between the season’s two bright stars Arcturus and Vega). The Monday, May 30 potential meteor shower during New Moon will radiate from the region of Hercules’ left knee, if it happens.

For all the sky-born and royal (as Seamus Heaney would say),