By Maggie Goldman
Kelly Clarkson sang it best: “For a moment like this, some people wait a lifetime.” But our favorite American Idol was just singing about a really great first kiss, which, if we’re getting technical, isn’t necessarily a once-in-a-lifetime event. Sorry, Kels.
What, exactly, qualifies as once-in-a-lifetime, then? The first thing that comes to mind is the so-called “blue moon,” as the phrase “once in a blue moon” has come to connote this sort of rarity. In reality, though, this astrological occurrence happens with some frequency: We saw one in 2013, and we’ll see them again in 2016, 2019 and 2121. So if blue moons don’t even happen once in a blue moon, what does?
Well, Thanksgivukkah, for one. Here, in honor of the eight nights of Hanukkah and the once-in-a-lifetime night of Thanksgivukkah, we’ve compiled a list of seven other rarities that accompany our favorite holiday hybrid on the list of true never-gonna-happen-again occurrences.
Hey, Baby: It should go without saying that you’re only born once. No do-overs! That’s OK, though, because odds are, you did it just fine the first time.
Comet Light, Comet Bright: Visible from Earth every 75-76 years, Halley’s Comet isn’t guaranteed to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, but it sure doesn’t happen often. It’s the only short-period comment visible to the naked eye from Earth, and the last time it appeared was in 1986. It won’t be visible again until 2061.
A Practically Perfect Pi Day: The number pi, a mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, is approximately 3.141592653589. Each year, math-lovers celebrate Pi Day on March 14 (3.14—get it?). In 2015, that day will be what some excited mathematicians are already calling “The Pi Day of Our Lives.” Starting at 9:26:53 a.m.—at the .589-second mark, to be exact—we’ll find ourselves experiencing the longest, most numerically accurate Pi Day of our lives, which happens just once every 100 years.
The Luckiest Day of the Century: Lots of folks make a wish when the clock strikes 11:11, but did you make one two years ago when the calendar struck Nov. 11, 2011? That day—11/11/11—marked the last time in 100 years when all the numbers in a double-figure date would be exactly the same, given that there’s no 22nd month. What a perfect palindrome! It won’t happen again until 2111.
Venus Up Close and Personal: Considered the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena, the transit of Venus across the sun happens in pairs spanning eight years—but then doesn’t happen again for about 243 years. The last pair of transits took place in June 2004 and 2012, and the next pair won’t occur until 2117 and 2125, long after we’re gone, and even then, the next transits will only be visible to Americans living in the most western coastal areas of the country. Missed the last transit of Venus? Check out this video from NASA.
An Upside-Up Year: Look at the number 1961; now turn your computer upside down and see what it looks like that way. OK, OK, so even if you didn’t flip your laptop, you get the gist: 1961 looks the same from both views. Prior to 1961, no year had boasted this claim since 1881—and it won’t happen again until 6009. That means that while this strange, unnamed occurrence might’ve been a twice-in-a-lifetime event for some of our great-great-grandparents, many of us will never (or never again) see an upside-down calendar year.
A Moment Like This: It all comes back to those Kelly Clarkson lyrics. We may wait a lifetime for special anomalistic occurrences like comets and 11/11/11 and Thanksgivukkah, but consider this: Whatever you’re doing, right now, is a moment that will never happen again. Every minute of every day we’re living a once-in-a-lifetime event. Live like it!
Maggie Goldman is a social media strategist and freelance writer living in New Jersey and pining for New England.
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