I just love Nature! Whether it is watching a hive of bees busy building comb and making honey, or being mesmerized by the murmurings of a flock of starlings or just staring into vast expanse of space on a clear and cloudless night, I am always in awe of the world around me.
All of this has been front of mind lately as I've spent the past several mornings getting up before sunrise to see five planets in our solar system line up in the Eastern sky. This unique alignment last occurred about 10 years ago and will be observable to those in the Northern Hemisphere from late January to mid February.
ILLUSTRATION BY ANDREW FAZEKAS, SKYSAFARI
Amazingly, all of this can be seen by the naked eye if you get the timing right and are in an area without too much light pollution. Binoculars or a telescope enhance the viewing greatly and perhaps allow you to see Saturns rings or Jupiter's moons.
Like in olden days, some will ascribe spiritual and / or cosmic significance to the event. They will posit that there are lessons and meanings in the alignment and that we should (or shouldn't) take certain actions during the time the event is going on.
For me, I prefer to just take it at face value. We are on a big rock that is swirling around a sun with other big rocks and for a little while, we will be able to see each other. I have found that the universe and much else about the history of our planet and species is best explained in A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson. I have listened to the book on CD at least a dozen times and with every reading (or listening) I have my wonder in the universe and mankind renewed.
Regardless of how you may interpret such events, get up early tomorrow morning and go see some of your planetary neighbors. They don't visit often!