Were you able to see the Great Conjunction on December 21? Some might call it the Christmas Star! The good folks at NASA explained what happened like this:
“You can imagine the solar system to be a racetrack, with each of the planets as a runner in their own lane and the Earth toward the center of the stadium,” said Henry Throop, astronomer in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “From our vantage point, we’ll be able to be to see Jupiter on the inside lane, approaching Saturn all month and finally overtaking it on December 21.”
What makes this year’s spectacle so rare, then? It’s been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night, as it will for 2020, allowing nearly everyone around the world to witness this “great conjunction.”***
Just in case you missed it, fear not! You can find some amazing images that people took of the wonderful astronomical event. It’s worth noting that from a Christian perspective, some scholars have long believed that this event is what the magi must have seen when they saw The Christmas Star. Perhaps it wasn’t a single star in the sky, but the Great Conjunction itself all those years ago. To me, this event felt like a little bit of Christmas magic and provided some hope to end what has been a difficult year.
Maybe this astronomical event is what the magi saw as they traveled from the East and came to Bethlehem to find Jesus (quite a bit after he was born because it’s what we celebrate on Epiphany.) Maybe it wasn’t this event, but some other beautiful moment painted across the night sky. Who knows. Though Christmas, even this quiet Christmas and socially distant Christmas, can provide a spark of hope when we may feel a little lost and lonely. Our Christmas Eve service of Lessons and Carols will premiere on Facebook Live beginning at 5 PM tonight and we’ll look forward to celebrating Epiphany together on January 3rd, 2021. Merry Christmas!
I did want to share one good thing that happened in 2020…. Neill and I got engaged yesterday! And Neill is looking forward to eventually meeting our whole congregation in person. Here’s to better and brighter days ahead!
***”The ‘Great’ Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn,” December 15, 2020, NASA, https://www.nasa.gov/feature/the-great-conjunction-of-jupiter-and-saturn
(This Week’s Thoughts 12.24.20)