Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: 'I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all'
Three Days to Christmas
We don't know if the Great Conjunction is in anyway related to the Star of Bethlehem. Maybe or maybe not. We really can't say for sure, but it does add to a good Christmas story.
My wife and I managed to go to Nurana Islands - a newly reclaimed area that is yet to see any development and hence an ideal place for such sightings.
Now though the island itself was dark the horizon wasn't and the two planets could be seen right above the haze of the city lights as a faint dot. Sadly, it wasn't a bright glow of light that we see in Christmas cards, but fact that we could see it and be part of a 'once in a lifetime' experience was in itself significant.
It did help that I had a stargazing app on my mobile which I could use to spot the planets and stars, and the image you see is a screenshot of what I saw. Here both planets are so close to each other that it seems as if Jupiter has a massive ring around it instead of the smaller ring that the Voyager discovered.
It made me think of the wise men who may have spotted this conjunction or something else in the sky that made them curious enough to make that long journey to Bethlehem. Unlike what we see in Christmas cards, it's highly unlikely that the celestial event remained in the night sky by the time they reached Bethlehem or Nazareth.
All they had was the memory of what they saw, the location of the star based on their astronomical understanding, and the logistics of organising the long trek from Persia or wherever they came from.
Now here's the thing. They experienced what they felt was a 'moment of significance' when they saw something out of the ordinary in the night sky. They must have seen and studied the night sky in great detail on a regular basis for them to notice the celestial alignment was not normal. It triggered a response and prompted a journey - probably one that continued long after the conjunction or alignment faded and disappeared.
Like the magi, I wonder if we are capable of noticing such moments of significance in the ordinary and the regular hurly burly of life. Does something in our day to day strike us as odd that it would force us to make major changes in life just to get a better understanding of it and experience it deeper? Will we be so convinced about that moment's significance that it would leave us changed forever?
I am sure if we look up in the night sky there will be many such significant celestial events that are waiting to be discovered. Maybe in a similar manner, there could be such moments happening even without us being aware but for that we need to embrace a stargazer's perception and see things for ourselves.