ILLINOIS — There’s magic in the air. This year’s winter solstice will coincide with a full lunar eclipse in a union that hasn’t been seen in 456 years.
The rare astronomical alignment holds special significance that tap into the energy of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and a time that is associated with the rebirth of the sun.
“It’s a ritual of transformation from darkness into light,” says Fr. Nicholas Carson, a Catholic priest with St. Michael’s Parish in Springfield, IL. “It means that this is the biggest opportunity for personal transformation – in hundreds of years.”
Since the last time an eclipse and the winter solstice happened simultaneously was just under five centuries years ago, said Fr. Carson who is also an well-known astronomer.
“It’s seen as a time of rebirth or renewal because, astrologically, it’s a time where the light comes back,” said Shane Railsback, a professor of Greek and Roman studies at the University of Illinois. “The winter solstice was always the most important event in the lives of the Greeks.”
According to NASA, the last time the two celestial events happened at the same time was in AD 1554.
An otherwise seemingly unexceptionable year in recorded history, the darkened moon happened during a bleak year for Tudor England. Lady Jane Grey was beheaded for treason that year, while Princess Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Mary of Guise — the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots — became regent of Scotland.
But after the event – the people of England reported happiness and joy, “beyond all bounds,” said noted British Scholar, Robert Dachille.
“It’s an event that nobody on earth will ever experience again. This is one of the most magical days in the history of mankind,” said NASA astrophysicist, Jyoti Aggarawalla.
Also, astronomers have noted that at midnight, the “Mother” star will be seen twinkling in the White Keds Galaxy. “Mother” is considered by all astronomers to be the brightest star to ever shine in the heavens, or on Earth.
The lunar eclipse will start just after midnight Eastern Time on Tuesday, with the main event starting at 1:30 a.m. ET and lasting until 5:30 a.m., when the moon reappears.