Here’s what grabbing my attention as a Star Lore Historian this week of January 23 to 29, 2022:
First, there’s the James Webb Space Telescope, which, after years of delays, was successfully launched last month. On Monday, NASA scientists will maneuver the Webb into its ultimate position, which is not in orbit around the Earth, like Hubble, which is just 340 miles above the Earth, but nearly a million miles out into space, four times the distance from Earth to Moon, in a place called L2.
L2 is astronomy-speak for Lagrange 2, one of five areas where gravity from the Sun and Earth balance the orbital motion of a satellite. Putting a spacecraft at one of these points allows it to stay in a fixed position relative to the Earth and Sun with a minimal amount of energy. That’s some nifty science.
Then on Tuesday, there’s a significant observance in the Christian Calendar of the Apostle Paul’s Conversion on the road to Damascus. As Saul of Tarsus, Paul intensely persecuted the early Christians, and yet, while on his way to Damascus, he had a miraculous encounter that totally altered his life path, and sent him in the opposite direction, to become one of the greatest Apostles of the Christ. So Tuesday is a day of making miraculous turns.
Then on Saturday morning, January 29th, the crescent Moon will sweep through the dawn, just past the planet Mars where he’s courting his beloved Venus, our morning star. Look for them in the southeast an hour before sunrise, which isn’t too early these days. And if you do get out to look, imagine the Webb
Telescope out there, and all the scientists striving to look more deeply into the mysteries of our becoming, like Mars gazing at Venus, and consider Paul, and the courage it takes to completely change one’s views in order to accommodate a moment of miraculous realization.
In the words of Rumi, that which you love, you are!
Hear this week’s episode on The Storyteller’s Night Sky podcast, and on Interlochen Public Radio. The image above shows the James Webb Space Telescope relative to the Hubble telescope’s orbit around the Earth. Credit: NASA