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The Advent Sky

From The Washington Post:

Each morning between now and Dec. 10, watch Saturn and Venus rapidly appear to grow apart. Before dawn Dec. 10, the waning crescent moon picks Saturn as a dance partner. And before dawn Dec. 11, the vivacious Venus slow dances with the old, skinny moon.Meteors will catch sky-gazing attention, according to the International Meteor Organization. The Geminid meteors, seen from Dec. 4-17, peak on the night of Dec. 13-14, with possibly up to 120 meteors per hour at its best. How do you watch? Just look up. These shooting stars appear to emanate from the constellation Gemini. With no moon to worry about, watch late in the evening and into the morning hours.
"Stand erect and raise your heads!" Los tres reyes too are scanning the sky.

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

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There is an art piece at St Eustache (Paris) consisting of a group of figures such as this one http://www.fannyallie.com , by the old historical altar in the back, standing erect and raising their heads!

The lunar/planetary positions in the sky the last few nights have been quite noticeable. I've come late to amateur astronomy, but for anyone else who might be interested in this fascinating hobby, "Turn Left at Orion" by Jesuit Br. Guy Consolmagno and Dan Davis (4th ed. 2011) is a great introduction to astronomy and telescopes.

Nothing in nature makes me think of God's grace more than shooting stars. They last for such a short time and are so unpredictable. Two persons can be star gazing side by side: one will see the shooting star, but the other will miss it. Although you can get lucky, normally it takes a little bit of preparation (knowing what nights of the year to be on the lookout for them, and getting to a place without artificial light) and of luck (clear weather at the right time), and a fair bit of patience, but not much more. Sometimes as you wait it seems that nothing is happening and you are tempted to give up in discouragement, but if you stay up anyway, you're bound to see one eventually. All it takes is certain hope. It will happen, but you cannot predict when. But if you don't pay attention, you can easily spend your entire life without ever seeing a shooting star.

For me, one of the most haunting phrases in Scripture: "he also made the stars." (Genesis 1:16)

Or Baruch 3:32-35 from the Easter Vigil:The One ... before whom the stars at their postsshine and rejoice;when he calls them, they answer, Here we are!shining with joy for their Maker.As for shooting stars, it just takes time, and they can be seen on most any night, with patience. I recommend a blanket on the ground in summer, or wrapped in blankets on lawn chairs when it's cold. And find a dark field somewhere, away from the lights of the city.

Best stargazing for me is in Grand Teton NP. In Summer, there is a park ranger there who was an astronomy professor. He does a night sky presentation that is amazing. It sure is something to gaze on wonders of the heavens while surrounded by wonders of the earth.

I notice that no dinosaurs have yet commented about the wonders of shooting stars. ;-)

I've been privileged to see the Milky Way only twice in my life. The light pollution kills our view of the heavens and possibly a window to religious experience. Though we know of the vast expanse of creation, we are cut off from a direct experience of it.

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