Short Day, Long Night, Conjunction

So, have you been out planet-watching? Where weather and light-pollution permits, look in the southwest sky just after full dark. You should be able to see two faint spots that don’t twinkle. Tonight, you will see one faint spot, as Jupiter and Saturn are in true conjunction, overlapping as the evening star.

Today is the shortest day, in the northern hemisphere, and the longest in the south. The day people feared and hoped for, the day that signaled if spring would return as the days grew longer, or if the great winter, Fimbulwinter, or some other horrible season had begun. It was a time of bonfires and prayer and sacrifice to keep the Dark away. “Tonight shall be wild, and tomorrow beyond imagining,” the farmer tells Will in The Dark is Rising. And so it was for Will, and for me, the first time I read that book. Continue reading