It’s amazing what a Facebook post can unleash. For some time now, one of my dreams has been to go see the Northern Lights. One day I’ll get there. I cannot wait to see the wonders of the world, the Northern Lights flickering, swirling and dancing across the sky through a prism of color.
In the summer of 2017, as I shared in this column, I traveled to Wyoming to see the rare total solar eclipse.
Those moments truly were extraordinary. I thought I was going to become one of those eclipse chasers, it was that compelling. The heady feeling of watching the heavenly bodies of sun and moon align was indeed breathtaking.
It was a clear perfect blue sky that day in Wyoming, as I experienced and understood what “totality” in nature truly meant.
Prior to that summer, and since, I’ve loved seeing starry night skies when I am able to. There’s a whole other world out there to explore. The clear night skies glittering with stars and the bright planets are a feast for the eyes and soul. In Colorado, with the mountains as a strong backdrop, it’s mesmerizing.
We’re lucky in Colorado to have some truly gorgeous dark skies. In Israel, the Rimon Crater’s night sky in the desert is also astonishingly beautiful.
On Tuesday, an Israeli in my Facebook friends network posted about Jupiter, Saturn, the glowing moon and Venus all being in perfect diagonal alignment.
With his photo of the night sky from the Arava, the desert region in Israel, he encouraged everyone to go out of doors into the night, and take a look.
“S’u merom eineichem, lift up your eyes on high,” he quoted from Isaiah. Indeed, many of his followers did just that.
The next thing you know, photos of this special astronomical arrangement appearing as a line in the Israeli night sky — the moon shining between these planets — were flooding his feed.
Here it is from Safed. “Look, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) is in alignment too,” one jokingly posted from Jerusalem, as he caught the Knesset aligning in this formation.
Someone else showed his photo of the sky from the traffic jam he was in, thanking the poster for sweetening his frustrating experience.
Others uploaded pictures of their families under the canopy of this perfect alignment, as did students with their teacher and kibbutzniks. There was a view of the sky from a Tel Aviv rooftop, from Lod, various valleys, plains and villages across all of Israel, many places I had never heard of, such as Milka and Vradim.
Looking into the mystery of the beyond, where you feel you are possibly looking to the edge of the universe is mesmerizing. The first time I felt the power of the dark skies was as a kid in the Rocky Mountains. That sense of being able to reach out and touch the beauty of a starry sky is powerfully fascinating. For me, the next time, was in Safed (Tzfat). After that, I was a goner. My curiosity was permanently ignited by the magnetic pull of these magical skies.
The amazing thing is, in modern Hebrew, the names of the planets conjure up ancient meanings, concepts and roots. Jupiter is called Tzedek, as in justice. Saturn is called Shabbetai, linking the planet with Shabbat. Venus is Noga, also a biblical word from the books of Proverbs and Isaiah, meaning light.
So as Israelis are posting their photos of this delightful astronomical constellation bestowed as a surprise gift by the night sky, without even trying to they keep referring to deep Jewish ideas of justice and Shabbat, as well as the power of light.
One of the people who posted a view of the night sky caught the planets and the moon among the strings of telephone wires. It just so happened to have been five thin threads stretching across the sky like the five parallel horizontal lines of a staff, with the elegant curves and swirl of a clef at its left perch, hinting at musical pitch and key.
For a moment there, the perfectly aligned planets, including the glowing moon, looked like musical notes dotted along the thin staff, poised to make music for the world. Poised to bring in a little more tzedek, a little more Shabbat rest, a little more noga.
Even without seeing the Northern Lights, from time to time the universe gifts us with little wondrous astronomical pleasures right outside our homes homes or apartments. And sometimes, what do you know, even through the medium of social media.
I think it might be time for me to look into getting a telescope, until, that is, I make it to see the Northern Lights with my own eyes.
Even without the serendipity of man-made telephone wires transforming the sky into a musical staff, I just know seeing the Northern Lights will evoke a gorgeous, if silent, music, all its own.
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