This Christmas season is going to be a special treat for those late shoppers coming home at night of the Winter Solstice.

On Monday, December 21st after sunset you will be able to catch a very rare conjunction of Saturn & Jupiter. The symbology can be amazing to the esoteric world. Saturnalia, a holiday in honor of Saturn the god of agriculture, was a weeklong celebration in the days leading up to the winter solstice for ancient Rome. Jupiter is known as the King planet and Christ is long been known as a Monarch.

Both Christ and the Winter Solstice are synonymous with the Christmas time of year. According to the History Channel, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time when food & drink were plentiful, and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a week, slaves would become masters, peasants were in command of the city and business/schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun. During of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome. In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra on December 25. Mithra was an ancient Persian god of light whose birthday was the most sacred day of the year.

The parallels to the traditional Christian celebration are most telling. While our boss may not become an employee or we will not run the government for a week, it is amazing how much of this transitioned over to the modern holiday season. I personal believe today’s calendar is accurate and Christ was born on December 25th 1 BC in Bethlehem where the legendary star appeared. While the conjunction will only be visible for a few hours, it pales in comparison to the one that appeared over 2020 years ago in Israel. I do not believe this star was a conjunction like what we’ll see this year but more like a one-time miracle used to fulfill what Moses wrote over 3,500 years ago in the Book of Numbers (Num. 24:17) “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth”. The world seems to be in a very dark place right now but let me end this year with what Isaiah wrote 2,500 years ago in his book (Isa. 9:2) “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

Sky watch for the next month:  

1. Venus rises with Crescent Moon- Sunday, December 10th at dusk look SSW before 16:30 and watch these set into the horizon after sunset.

2. Crescent Moon with Jupiter & Saturn- Thursday, December 17th at dusk look SSW at sunset and watch these three set into the night sky.

3. Geminid & Ursid Meteor Shower– We have two mild meteor showers this month, the Geminid peaks Sunday, December 13-14th just after midnight on a moonlight night in the constellation of Gemini. The Ursid shower peaks Monday, December 21-22nd morning before sunrise when earth moves through the center of the dust trail left behind by comet 8P/Tuttle on an 50% light Moon. For more on all meteor showers next year check out the International Meteor Organization at www.imo.net/calendar/2021.

4. Winter Solstice Arrives- Monday, December 21st is officially the shortest day of the year at 03:02 am with 7 hours, 54 minutes, and 19 seconds of daylight. This occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees and likewise the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. Depending on the Gregorian calendar, the December solstice occurs annually on a day between December 20 and December 23. On this date, all places above a latitude of 66.5 degrees north are now in darkness, while locations below a latitude of 66.5 degrees south receive 24 hours of daylight.

Public Events for the next month:

Christmas Observers Group Meeting at Wilson Coulee Observatory near Okotoks-    Saturday, December 12th starting at 19:30. Dress warmly even when daytime temperatures seem mild; standing at telescopes can get chilly - try layering of clothes, a warm hat and warm footwear. Happily, the Sid Lee building is heated. For further information, contact Jack Milliken at calrascsec@telus.net and the website is http://calgary.rasc.ca/RecurringEvents.htm#recOG

Merry Christmas and Thanks for Tuning in all Year!

Neel Roberts is a local astronomer in Southern Alberta and welcomes your comment at Neel_Roberts@ptccanada.com, Tel: (403) 560-6574. Check out his work at www.ptccanada.com

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