Muppeteer Jim Henson created a story that offers much hope and has remained relevant, entertaining and prophetic for almost 40 years.

His best work, The Dark Crystal, was a 1982 film that has stuck with me since the first time I saw it as a 13-year-old. The movie, which I watch again and again, shares the tale of a dark world broken and saved by the good and evil in all of us. Of course, there are characters that embody each side, and the heroes and villains ultimately come together during a Great Conjunction to save their world and find their best selves. 

Though I had thought the concept of a great conjunction was Henson’s fiction, turns out celestial conjunctions are a real thing, and we are experiencing one of the greatest great conjunctions ever. Two celestial bodies, Jupiter and Saturn, are about to convene in what has been romantically called a planetary kiss. More scientifically, the planets will align because their orbits have put them on the same celestial longitude or plane of view, so they visually appear to move closer and closer over time until their rendezvous makes them seem to unite into one body.

In the case of these two planets, a conjunction happens every 20 years. This conjunction is considered great because the visual congregation of Jupiter and Saturn is the rarest meeting between all of the brightest planets. This particular coming together, observable in the southern early evening sky through the month of December, culminates in the planetary connection on Dec. 21, which is also the winter solstice.

What makes it the greatest of the great is that this is the closest encounter of the two planets in four centuries, though you have to go back even further, to the year 1226, to have actually been able to observe it. The planets will be only one-tenth of a degree apart on the observable axis, and appear as one planet or single point of reflected light. Due to the date of the conjunction, this single bright collaboration is called the Christmas Star. The next time these planets will be this close visually is scheduled to occur in 2080.

In Henson’s Dark Crystal version of this type of celestial assembly, the great conjunction had three planets coming together and the implications of this alignment were significant and unknown.  In Henson’s cinematic world, called Thra, the last time the conjunction had occurred, a giant crystal had shattered and caused the breaking apart of their world. Aughra, a character described by the official Dark Crystal website as “a wizened, three-and-a-half feet tall, ram-horned, three-eyed, ornery, capricious” Mother Nature type was mysterious about the meaning of the conjunction, explaining, “the Great Conjunction is the end of the world! Or the beginning!  Anything could happen! Whole WORLD might burn up!” 

In the end — spoiler alert — the good and evil in the characters come together. Thra is revived to its former green and healthy splendor, with good winning out over the evil. As Aughra said, “What was sundered and undone shall be whole — the two made one.”

Maybe this month’s historic and rare greatest great conjunction will mirror the happy ending in the movie, and usher in a new day and new way to bring together two opposing sides to work together for the good of all.

Suzan Bellincampi is director of the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown, and author of Martha’s Vineyard: A Field Guide to Island Nature and The Nature of Martha’s Vineyard.