One of the brightest stars of the night sky is fading, and scientists aren’t sure why. Since October, Betelgeuse—the right shoulder of famous constellation Orion—has continued to dim. It’s possible the star, which goes through cycles of darkening and brightening, is experiencing a particularly dim cycle. But scientists say if it continues, Betelgeuse could burn into a supernova, blazing through the firmament.
Meanwhile, a decade’s blaze into oblivion is obvious for all to see. In the closing days of 2019, many debated the legacy of the preceding 10 years. Conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat argued that the decade was relatively uneventful but “filled with angst and paranoia” as America grew more divided.
Angst shone brightly in the year’s final days in a series of attacks on religious communities, both in the United States and abroad. Several attacks on Jews in the New York area—including a shooting at a grocery store and a stabbing—prompted police to step up patrols in Jewish communities. Then on Dec. 28, a man carried a machete into a rabbi’s home where a group of Hasidic Jews celebrated Hanukkah. He slashed and stabbed five people, one man critically. Would-be victims ran out of the home past the still-lit menorah. But some fought back, throwing furniture at the attacker.
Police arrested him later that night as he fled, covered in his victims’ blood. FBI investigators said they found anti-Semitic journal entries in the man’s home, questioning why “Hebrew Israelites” took power from “ebinoid Israelites,” what may be a reference to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. His family and attorney say he is mentally ill.
One day later, a hooded attacker shot and killed two men in a worship service at West Freeway Church of Christ near Fort Worth, Texas. A church livestream caught the attack on video and showed congregants ducking under pews as the man fired a shotgun. Two members of the church’s security team shot back and killed him almost immediately. “We lost two great men today, but it could have been a lot worse, and I am thankful that our government has allowed us the opportunity to protect ourselves,” senior minister Brit Farmer said later that day.