Earlier this week I stood in my front yard with my husband, daughter, dogs, and neighbors to view a spectacular event – the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the sky. We were lucky to have a clear sky that night and found the two planets in the west just after sunset. They looked like two faint stars very close to one another floating atop our many pine trees. As we stood there my fourth grader began to excitedly rattle off all the facts she had learned at school about this event.
While these conjunctions happen every 20 years, this particular one was quite significant. Apparently, this was the closest conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn since 1623 and the closest observable event since 1226. My daughter made sure to tell me that while the planets appeared very close to one another from earth, they are over 450 million miles apart. Jupiter is brighter than any star while Saturn is not quite as bright as Jupiter. Unlike stars that twinkle, both planets shine continually.
In the rush of the holiday season, not to mention the overwhelming events of 2020, it is very hard not to get caught up in the daily minutia that seems to dominate our lives. As I stood looking up at the sky and listening to the excitement in my daughter’s voice, I was reminded of just how special a moment can be. Particularly a moment that will never be repeated. I welcomed the different perspective that came from viewing the planets through the lens of my child.