We just came in from looking at the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, the closest they will appear from Earth for another 800 years when–needless to say–two 75+ year olds aren’t going to be here to look. We stood by the south barn lot fence in the back yard, resting binoculars on the fence because our hand aren’t as steady as they used to be, feeling each other’s warmth on this chilly evening and sharing the joy we’ve always felt while seeing interesting things in nature. Which is a cold dull way of saying it, but I’m still “star-struck.”
No matter what messes we humans make of this planet, Jupiter and Saturn will move on in their orbits, and the solar system will move on as a whole, and in 800 years, if anyone is still living near here, and the sky is clear, they may noticed another such conjunction. 800 years ago, in 1220 C.E., the Magna Carta was five years old. King Henry III ruled England (a king who had two coronations, because the Pope didn’t approve of the first one.) Samarkand fell to the Mongols who under Genghis Khan would eventually rule from China west to the Caspian Sea, even displacing Islam for a time. In what became the US, the Mississippian culture dominated the southeast–the Mound-Builders were expanding and thriving. In the Southwest, the Pueblan and Hohokam cultures were doing well. In Central America, the great Mayan cities were empty–devastating drought had destroyed the food supply–but in South America the Inca culture was growing and spreading…Cuzco had been founded a hundred years before. So, 800 years hence on this planet? Who knows…none of us, for sure. But astronomical cycles suggest a longer view than most of us achieve day by day.
If you have clear skies in the next few days, I strongly recommend going somewhere you can see them (local conditions vary–if a mountain blocks your view to the SW, you’ll need to go somewhere else. Same with large buildings.)