This rare celestial occurrence is a time to reflect on humankind’s place in the cosmos.
PUBLISHED: THE HILL: Changing America by Cyril Christo, Opinion Contributor December 11, 2020
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” —Oscar Wilde
The last time Jupiter and Saturn, the two giants of the sky, appeared so close together was on July 16, 1623, when they were only about 5 arc minutes apart, but their proximity to the sun made the event probably unobservable to the naked eye. This year the two planets will align again on December 21, as the very likely Bible star of Bethlehem.
One has to go back to March 4, 1226 to have been able to actually witness such a close “great conjunction.” As Europe emerged from the dark ages to slowly march towards the Renaissance so many centuries ago, this conjunction heralds a unique moment in time.
Will the generation today be allowed to witness the next close “great conjunction” on March 15, 2080? The younger generation is now fighting for climate justice because their future, the planet’s life depends on it. Thirty three Portuguese children have just filed a climate change case with the European Courts of Human Rights. The UK, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine are among the countries being sued. The children know what is at stake. If they make it to 2080, it will be because a different tenor has been struck in the last few years, especially this year when the pandemic must change our collective behavior towards this unique planet.
Tipping points from all ecosystems around the world have sounded the alarm. When the Amazon has seen fires as horrific as those of 2019 with 8,373 fires and Australia and California and Siberia, all ablaze. Amidst all this mayhem the Chinese have planted their flag on the moon. The irony could not be greater. Cyborg intelligence seems to be around the corner, ready one day to command every aspect of our lives. And actual flying cars will soon make their appearance, confounding our view of the skies forever. As Mr. Musk’s satellites have already done obfuscating our view of the heavens.
In 1220, just a few years before the last visible close great conjunction, our Lady of Chartres, in France, had just been completed. The final Crusades happened from 1221 and 1291. The clash between Christian and Muslim civilization may not be equal in violence today to what it was centuries ago but spiritual and political tensions still exist and permeate our lives everyday from the teacher who was beheaded in Paris, to immense conflicts in the Middle East and beyond. Western intrusions in other lands continue and in many ways the crusades have only become more pronounced.