Despite its general dumpster-fire quality, 2020 has given us a few cool moments. The heavens gave us a literal bright spot on Halloween with a rare blue moon, and now they’re one-upping themselves in a HUGE way.
Believe it or not, we’re about to see the first Christmas Star in nearly 800 years.
A Christmas star is actually when Jupiter and Saturn align so closely in the last week of December that they create a radiant point of light for those of us looking up from Earth.
Mercy gracious, don’t we all need a radiant point of light right now? I know I do.
An alignment between these two planets only occurs about every 20 years, so they are rare, but alignment this close, providing astronomical eye candy of these proportions, hasn’t happened since the middle ages, last occurring March 4, 1226.
A Christmas star that hasn’t happened since the literal middle ages? I think that’s exactly the symbol we need in 2020.
Many of us will be separated physically from loved ones this year, and many more are grieving a heart-rending separation caused by death. Over 270,000 of our fellow citizens have perished in the global pandemic this year. They were sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, and siblings. So many of us grieve this Christmas.
Despite all this pain, despite many big celebrations being canceled, despite family members lost, Christmas is not canceled.
The aligning of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21st will serve as a bright, physical reminder of that. Joy may be harder to come by, but it is not canceled. The miracle baby was still born 2000 years ago. God still took on flesh to show us what unconditional love is. That miracle is still true every single day of every single year, whether that year is good or bad.
Family is still precious. Life, even when it is so, so hard, even when it is anything but “normal,” is still a gift.
The Christmas Star will be most visible on December 21st, about 45 minutes after sunset in the southwest sky. But it will be with us the entire fourth week of December.
I can’t help but wonder if God arranged this celestial celebration just to remind us of His hand on our lives just when we needed it the most.
Mark your calendars and set all the phone reminders for this once-in-a-lifetime Christmas Star light show!
I hope you share it with your children because they won’t see it again until March 2080, when it will be decidedly less Christmas-y!
But when they do, I know they’ll remember sharing that special stargazing moment with you during a particularly crazy year of their childhood. They’ll remember that joy is always possible, and that wonders literally never cease. And I know they’ll smile.