Mankind always has looked to the night sky with awe and wonder. The beauty and the tranquility have held important symbolic meaning throughout time.
And that's true in this Christmas season, as well.
Tuesday night and Wednesday, millions of Christians will gather in special services to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in a stable. They will recount how angels filled the sky, proclaiming the birth of the Son of God to shepherds in the fields and how a majestic star led the Magi to the town of Bethlehem.
More than two millennia later, the Star of Bethlehem continues to be revered by Christians as a symbol of God's greatest gift to mankind, the birth of his Son, not in a place of prestige, but rather a manger accessible to everyone.
And as Christians leave candlelight services and other religious celebrations, many will wonder about that special night centuries ago.
But Tuesday evening's sky also holds a symbol of another tenet of the Christian faith: the cross and Jesus' promise of everlasting life for those who believe he died to redeem them.
The Northern Cross in the constellation Cygnus the Swan, which is directly overhead in the summer sky, will setting on the western horizon around dusk.
The cross-shaped grouping of stars is a reminder for Christians of the tremendous gift the Son of God gave them through his suffering and death by crucifixion.
It's fitting as Christians think of the gifts provided by their faith, that they recall not just God's gift to man through the birth of his Son in a manger in Bethlehem but also Jesus' gift to mankind through his death on the cross.
The Star of Bethlehem and the Northern Cross symbolize opposite ends of Jesus' life, but they are reminders in the night sky of the spiritual gifts provided to Christians through the love of God and his Son.