Aching Prosperity -> Group News and Articles -> Following God's 2021 Christmas Star

Following God's 2021 Christmas Star
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Written by
Pastor Ty Alexander
It was a cloudless Christmas night around 6:30 pm, just after sunset, when I was driving to my mother’s home in Florida. We had come from seeing family for Christmas, and straight ahead in the windshield view, towards the southwest, I saw one very bright star shining above the horizon near the sunset glow. Since it was Christmas, I thought about the Wise Men following the star to Bethlehem and wondered what this star was in the sky. It was the only one visible at the time (see recreation below).

Later at home, I checked Stellarium, a very good, free astronomy program, on the computer and saw the star was actually Jupiter (see screenshot below), which I remember from Ernest L. Martin’s book, The Star That Astonished The World, where he showed with very convincing evidence from his stellar research, the “star” he believed the Wise Men followed to Bethlehem was also Jupiter, which actually did hover over Bethlehem on 3 or 2 BC, exactly when Christ was born.

Even more interesting, I saw in Stellarium that Saturn and Venus were making a line with Jupiter on Christmas night, in a similar way to the stars of Orion’s Belt (see screenshot above). I couldn’t see Saturn or Venus at sunset, though, because of the sun’s glow.

This alignment peaked my interest further, so I looked at time-lapse views of the alignment for the days ahead and saw that Venus would go out of alignment with Jupiter and Saturn, but was quickly replaced with Mercury in a similar alignment (see below).

I’m not an avid astronomer, so I don’t know how often an alignment like this happens, but from my limited experience with the stars, I know it is very infrequent, and my being in the right place at the right time to see the Christmas Star while driving home was another instance of God’s perfect timing to inspire me. This kind of supposedly "accidental" serendipity has happened to me more than I can count now.

My being in Florida to help with my mother’s retirement home for Christmas this year played a critical role as well. If I were back home in Minnesota, I very likely would not have seen the Christmas Star at sunset, since I'm usually always in the house on holidays. Time and place played important roles here, and now I saw a very unusual double-alignment of the stars happening in the near future on the sunset horizon.

I felt God was telling me to investigate this, so like the Star of Bethlehem pointed to a place, I went to a map and tried to see where the 2021 Christmas Star was pointing when I saw it on the road.

There weren’t that many options since I was in Florida, close to the coast, and would quickly run to the Gulf of Mexico on the map. My best guess was the star pointed somewhere in between Crystal Bay and Homosassa Bay, which was interesting, because just a day or so earlier, I was sightseeing near where the star was pointing, an area called Kings Bay.

This is another unusual alignment. Was this year’s Christmas Star pointing to Kings Bay, like the Star of Bethlehem pointed to our King Messiah? Another odd thing about King’s Bay was I already knew about it because of researching the area for my mother’s retirement.

I found it strange there was a King’s Bay in Florida where we were going to travel when I had named a bay in my Irish adventure novel, Aching Prosperity, the same thing many years ago, except I used the Irish version – Bá Rí (pronounced “Bah Ree”). This would be another very non-coincidental alignment with my path in Irish culture and Aching Prosperity. You'll find more examples on the Where The Fairytale Is Real page.

And even before I went on this trip to Florida, the Lord gave me another reminder of Ireland with a new business cell phone I recently got. I noticed its IMEI number started with 353 (photo below), which reminds me of Ireland because I know their phone area code is 353.

On top of that, God gave me big reminders around the same time I got the new phone that told me to stop working so much and find personal happiness. The Lord reminded me of my past as a romantic artist. Now this new link with a real Christmas Star to Kings Bay and my creative and romantic work in Aching Prosperity seem to be God’s continued reminder towards personal pursuits.

When I realized the Christmas Star I saw made unusual alignments with other stars, I felt like one of the Wise Men journeying to Bethlehem. Except, I’m sure their journey was planned well in advance, while I seemed to stumble on this very unusual sequence of stars in what is God’s serendipity and predestiny – not a fortuitous, happy accident, which is the dictionary definition of serendipity, but something with God’s plan in it. It would have all been hidden to me if the Lord had not timed everything so perfectly. Praise Him for His wonders!

I feel the Lord is telling me to go see what's on the horizon when Venus is replaced with Mercury at sunset, which happens on January 8th or 9th, 2022. The moon also comes very close to lining up with the planets on the same dates, as well, though it does not seem to be a perfect alignment, and it is likely the lower stars on the horizon will not be visible at all when I go see them, because as the sun sets, the stars also move lower and may disappear under the horizon before they become visible as the sky darkens. We’ll have to see what happens.

Update 12/30/2021
On December 29th, I went out to Ozello a little farther southwest on Florida's coast than Kings Bay to see if I could catch the Christmas Star alignment. It looked like it was going to be good viewing conditions at sunset (photos below).

But as the sun went down, more clouds came to cover the area where the star alignment would appear (photos below).

Then some minutes after the sun went below the horizon, I saw the first star, which was the Christmas Star or Jupiter (photos below).

As I waited for the other two stars to come out, more clouds came to obscure the view. But after some time, a stellar photographer, who I didn't know, came to the same spot as me to capture a comet, told me she saw Venus near the horizon (photo below). I could barely see it with my bare eyes.

The middle star in the alignment (Saturn) was still hidden in the clouds, and after waiting for some time, it didn't look like the clouds would get any better, and Venus would soon disappear below the horizon. I decided to call it a night after getting some good photos of the sunset and some stars.

We couldn't find the comet while I was there. It was supposed to be near Venus, but perhaps the photographer I met by chance caught it with her better DSLR and lens. I went home fairly satisfied of catching part of the Christmas Star alignment with a gorgeous Florida sunset.

Little did I know, when I checked my Canon DSLR photos at home, I found one shot where I actually did get all three stars of the alignment, plus the fourth, Mercury, which is now moving to replace Venus as the lowest star in the alignment (photo below). You might have to squint a bit to see Saturn and Mercury.

Update 1/3/2022
Last night, I decided to try and capture the Christmas Star alignment at the farthest point I could reach on the west coast where Kings Bay is. The weather was warm (80F) and the sky towards the west was mostly clear (photo below).

It was also the New Moon last night, but don't look for the moon in the photos. If you're not familiar with lunar cycles, the New Moon is when the moon is completely in shadow and not visible. I will try to capture the crescent moon with the alignment later this week. It might actually go into alignment with the stars.

While I waited, I noticed a lot of plovers running and flying about the beach. They were too quick for my camera work, but I noticed the camera on my phone produced photos of them that looked like paintings (photos below).

The plover below looks a bit sad in its painted rendition.

There was a sail surfer playing on the waves at sunset. It was very windy on the beach, so it was perfect for sailing.

As the sun went down, the clouds made "God rays," (photos below) which usually describe visible shafts of light in dim settings, usually caused by light beams hitting dust in the air. Tonight the rays seem to be made by thin clouds in the sky.

The sun set fairly quickly as I watched (photo below). It only seemed like a couple minutes for it to disappear.

At 6:20 pm, I saw the Christmas Star, Jupiter (photo below). The alignment is actually very close to west where the sun set, as you can see by the bright glow below the star. Stellarium makes it look like the alignment is much farther south if you go back to the screenshots above.

My Canon DSLR (photo below) is responsible for most of the pictures taken after the sun sets.

At 6:18 pm, all of the stars of the alignment (Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus) are barely visible. I also caught Mercury, which will replace Venus as the bottom star in the alignment this coming weekend.

Below is a photo of the stars with labels in case you can't see them in the photo above.

Below is a higher resolution photo of all the stars if you have a larger screen to view the bigger image.

Just ten minutes later, Venus is too low to see on the horizon (photo below).

Afterwards, only Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury are visible (photo below). In the following days, Mercury will move to align with Jupiter and Saturn as Venus did, while Venus likely will not be visible anymore after sunset.

Update 1/6/2022
Last night I thought I would go out to the beach (same place as last time) to photograph the crescent moon with the Christmas Star alignment. I went earlier this time to explore the beach a little more. It was quite a bit chillier than previous nights in Florida - only about 60F - and still very windy on the beach, so I had to wear warm clothes and a light jacket this time.

Some of the lens flares looked like wings on the sun in some of the photographs.

Mangrove trees have roots that grow up and out of the salt water so the tree can breathe better (below).

Settling into my photo spot for the night, there are a lot more seabirds on the beach than last time (below).

And after they saw me snacking, they converged on me and tried to find my food when I walked away. They were very keen to get my snacks. One was bold enough to try and snatch it from my hand.

There were a lot of skimmers today too. I'm familiar with them from watching nature documentaries. I never saw them in the States before.

The moon was visible when I got to the beach, but it's barely noticeable in photos. Below you can see the small crescent above and left of the green lens flare dot. The moon looks much bigger in person.

As the sky dims, the cameras can get slightly better pictures of the moon (below), but it's still very small in photos.

Here's a shot of the moon with a telephoto lens on the DSLR (below).

At about 6:10 pm, the Christmas Star (Jupiter) is visible near the moon (below).

Tonight, the other stars took a much longer time to appear. Jupiter was the only star out for a while (below).

As I waited for the rest of the stars to come out, all the birds left, except the plovers. They ran around the shoreline looking for food well after sunset (photos below).

At about 6:34 pm, I could see the other stars of the alignment, below and right of Jupiter (photo below). Saturn is the next star, then Mercury, lowest on the horizon, in the white haze from the sun's fading glow. The bright star on the left is Fomalhaut, which is the eye of the fish in the Piscis Austrinus constellation.

Venus is no longer visible in the alignment, because it sets below the horizon before the sky is dim enough to see it. But Mercury will replace Venus in the alignment on the night of the 8th. Tonight, Mercury is still a little out of line with Jupiter and Saturn.

Below is a better shot of the alignment with the moon.

Behind me was the constellation Orion (below).

The next update will be in a couple days time when I try to capture Mercury at its best alignment with the top two stars of the Christmas Star alignment. The moon may also be in good alignment above the stars, as well.

I feel the night of the 8th on this beach is the when and where God was leading me towards when I first came across this alignment on Christmas night. What will time and space reveal?

What did the Christmas Star alignment tell me? 1/8/2022
It was a warm sunny day, more typical of Florida, unlike the chilly night I had last time. I went to the beach early to relax (photo below) until it was time to capture the final alignment of the Christmas Star (Jupiter) with Saturn and Mercury. If you read the posts before this, you will remember that Venus was the lowest star in the alignment, but it has moved out of alignment and is now too low on the horizon after sunset to be visible. Tonight, Mercury replaces Venus as the lowest star in the alignment.

I arrived in the afternoon at low tide, which I had never seen on this beach before. The spot where the people are set up for fishing (above) is mostly underwater at high tide, with only a handful of boulders remaining above the waterline.

At low tide, you can find a lot of holes with tiny crabs among the mangrove roots (below).

Like the other day, the beach was full of seabirds, but no skimmers today. One seagull was acting peculiar by standing on one leg for some minutes.

The moon was visible and high in the sky when I arrived (below). I knew it might be too high to photograph with the alignment based on what I saw in Stellarium, but I thought there was a chance it would move low enough to photograph with the alignment by the time the stars came out.

Here's a close-up of the moon (below). It is 42% full.

Like the other nights I went to get photographs, the sunsets proved to be spectacular (photos below). There always seemed to be the right amount of clouds to make gorgeous fiery, marbled skies.

By 6:00 pm, I can see the moon is getting low enough to photograph with the stars of the alignment.

The Christmas Star is just becoming visible in the photos below. I also noticed some unusual "God rays" from the sunset tonight. This beach seemed to produce a lot of them the last two times I was here.

At 6:35 pm, I could see all the stars of the alignment (Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury). They looked to be in near perfect alignment, and the moon above them was close to lining up with them too (below).

Below is my last shot of the alignment at 6:46 pm with labels (wait for them).

Now that the final alignment with Mercury took place, you may be wondering what God brought with it. When I first found this double alignment happening (see first post), I felt the Lord was telling me to go to this beach at the entrance to Kings Bay on the 8th of January to see what would be here.

I didn't know what to expect, but thought a person might be involved, like baby Jesus was in Bethlehem for the Wise Men. For me, I might have guessed what I'd find based on all the recent reminders God has given me in the past couple months of a certain place and culture.

As the sun was setting, a family with young girls came next to me to play on the beach, and their mother kept calling out to one of the youngest, about five years old. What was her name? It was Ireland.

And when I heard it, it was obvious. God gave me another reminder of Ireland through this Christmas Star alignment pointing to this beach, which is at the channel that forms Kings Bay, which is a kind of mirror of the bay I inadvertently gave the same name to in my Irish adventure novel.

Why is God giving so much effort to remind me of Ireland and my connections with Irish culture? I've written about how my path in ministry was related to St. Patrick and I've felt like St. Patrick, who was kidnapped to Ireland and later called to minister there.

I've had many, many reminders from the Lord now of how my life connects with Ireland. I have never been able to go to Ireland, though. Are these latest reminders telling me it's time to g?

That isn't what I'm feeling yet, because of how God has told me to stop working so much and to work on personal happiness. Some of that happiness is meant to come from my creative work and Ireland, and this New Year I was also reminded of the romantic side of things, but also to remember my role as a minister.

God's Christmas Star this year ultimately points me to Ireland. So I will have to see how He leads me there.

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