August 21st, 2017 - Marion, Illinois

Gideon Shumway studied the star chart on his laptop in awe after reading the latest blog post about the upcoming alignment of the planets. He had skipped the first day of classes at Notre Dame and gone on a mini-vacation, staying in a tiny hotel room so he would be close enough to witness a total solar eclipse. Yet it was a blog post which now had him in total awe.

“Come on, Gid!” Duane said. “I want to get out of the city before the eclipse starts!”

Gideon was a foot taller with red hair and freckles, almost the opposite of Duane’s black hair and brown eyes. They had only one class together the previous year; Introduction to Comparative Religion. Yet they had become great friends.

“I’m coming,” Gideon replied. He pulled on his shoes, picked up his laptop, and followed Duane out of their hotel room. “Don’t forget those silly glasses you bought.”

“They’re not silly!” Duane protested. He dug the glasses out of his backpack. They looked like cheap 3D glasses from ten years ago with stars and stripes on the side behind the words American Eclipse August 21, 2017. “These things allow us to look directly at the eclipse without burning out our eyes.”

“Okay, ‘Mom’,” Gideon chuckled as he climbed into the passenger seat.

Duane got behind the wheel and put the glasses on the dash. “Hey, I’m not kidding. You’re a football player. If you damage your eyes you could lose your scholarship.”

Gideon rolled his eyes, even though he knew Duane was right. Staring at the sun, even with most of it covered by the moon, would damage his precious eyesight. How could he throw the ball down the field with pinpoint accuracy without his perfect eyesight?

“By the way, what were you reading about?” Duane asked as they pulled onto Highway 13 and headed east.

“It was a blog post about the alignment of planets and stars next month.”

“Oh, yeah? ‘Cause right now we’re about to witness the most spectacular alignment of this planet with the moon and our favorite star. Yet you seem more engrossed by whatever you were reading.”

Gideon chuckled. “That’s because next month the stars could be fulfilling a prophecy straight out of the Bible.”

“You don’t think ‘The Great American Eclipse’ qualifies as that?” 6 Duane asked as he passed another car.

Despite the many signs telling them not to, some people were already pulling off to the side of the highway and pulling out their observational equipment.

“Eclipses happen all the time,” Gideon replied. “There’s going to be another one in America in less than seven years. It’s even going to hit this same town. How could we possibly identify this particular eclipse as the fulfillment of prophecy when there’s nothing extraordinary about it?”

“You mean besides being the first total eclipse in centuries to only cast its shadow on American soil?”

Gideon shook his head. “That’s not enough to fulfill biblical prophecy.”

“But this alignment of stars next month is?”

“Revelation 12 says, ‘And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.’” 7

“How does a group of stars give birth?” Duane asked as he pulled off the highway onto a rural road.

“Well, according to this blog, Jupiter has been inside the ‘womb’ of the constellation Virgo since December of last year. It won’t exit that area until September 23rd, 2017.”

“That doesn’t sound too unusual,” Duane said. “Jupiter goes into retrograde motion about every thirteen months. I’m sure it’s been in that region of the sky for nine months before.”

“And how, exactly, do you know that?”

“My dad. He took me camping almost every month to show me the stars through his telescope. He taught me all about planetary motions.”

“Then I guess you would know,” Gideon conceded, “but according to this blog, it’s never happened with the moon at the feet of Virgo and the Sun on her shoulder with three of the planets in the constellation of Leo.”

“What does Leo have to do with it?”

“It’s right over her head, acting as a sort of crown.”

“But only three planets will be there. I thought you said there were supposed to be twelve stars in her crown.”

“That’s right,” Gideon said. “Add the three planets to the nine stars of Leo and you get a full dozen.”

Duane chuckled as they pulled onto a dirt road. “You’re more excited about a sign in the future you won’t even see with your eyes than you are for the eclipse which is about to blot out the sun.”

“I came because you invited me,” Gideon said.

“Thanks, man,” Duane said. “Who would have thought a Mormon and a Muslim would become friends while studying comparative religion at a Catholic University?”

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Endnotes

6.       August 21st, 2017 - Marion, Illinois
Joel 2:31 (KJV) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.

7.       August 21st, 2017 - Marion, Illinois
September 23rd, 2017 - Mt. Hamilton, California
Revelation 12:1-2 (KJV)

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