The night sky is amazing out on Nantucket Island. Thirty miles out to sea and with only a skeleton crew of people on the island over the winter, the light pollution is minimal and the stars stand out brilliantly. I spent the holidays on the island with my sister and her family and we were blessed with more than one crisp, clear evening with which to stargaze. One night, we wandered out and quickly found the Big Dipper and Orion's Belt. We gaped and wondered at the rest of the winter constellations, night jewelry, gleaming, resplendent even if unidentified by our cluster of inept, excited astronomers.
After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Stellar fellas from afar
Staring at the steering star;
Hoary. . .
His story, true,
My story too!
My starry story;
Your story too?
Scripture is true;
Homage is due:
Let's me and you
Worship the Star Baby!
Then God said: "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years, and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth." And so it happened.
I lived on Nantucket myself back in the mid 80's. In 1986, caught up in the moment, my roommates and I had hiked out Hummock Pond Road to the Maria Mitchell Observatory and feasted our eyes on Halley's Comet. I remember thinking the sobering thought that this would almost certainly be the only time in my life on earth that I would be able to see this comet. Maria Mitchell, a Nantucket native, had become the first acknowledged female astronomer in the United States. In 1847, she had discovered a comet herself by gazing through a telescope while perched on her parent's island home.
And so our time passes. Happy New Year!