Winter Solstice – The Great Conjunction

Today, is Winter Solstice, when we experience the shortest day and longest night of the year. From here we will slowly gain more light each day, marking this as an astronomical shift from darkness to light.

For many cultures, winter solstice marks a day of rebirth, saying goodbye to the past year and a universal deep breath for the future.

Susan Cooper penned a beautiful poem about winter solstice that we are thrilled to share with you below. Given this incredibly difficult year, it seems especially poignant and I hope you enjoy the read.

Great conjunction this close last happened 400 years ago.

As a special bonus this year, Jupiter and Saturn will align in the night sky today, December 21st, in an event astronomers call the “great conjunction.”

The last time Jupiter and Saturn came this close was 1623, but that conjunction was too near the sun to be seen by Earthlings. 1226 is actually the most recent time such close conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was visible to humans.

You can watch it online with webcasts from The Virtual Telescope Project, Slooh at NASA Telescope here.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing

To drive the dark away

They lighted candles in the winter trees

They hung their homes with evergreen

They burned beseeching fires all night long

To keep the year alive

And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake

They shouted, reveling

Through all the frosty ages you can hear them

Echoing behind us—listen!

All the long echoes, sing the same delight

This Shortest Day

As promise wakens in the sleeping land:

They carol, feast, give thanks

And dearly love their friends

And hope for peace.

And now so do we, here, now,

This year and every year.

Welcome, Yule!

rule

This poem is available as a children’s hardcover with beautiful watercolor illustrations by Carson Ellis.