An early Christmas gift (thanks mom!) reminded me that I'm quite close to Babylon, where a little over two thousand years ago, a trio of magi were also studying the night sky, also without the benefit of light pollution. Planetary conjunctions probably prompted them to make their long journey to Bethlehem, a little bit west of here. This site describes what I believe was most likely the star they followed.
So while I'm going to be spending this Christmas season away from my family in a lonely desert place, it's a unique privelege to be so near to Bethlehem, the site of Jesus' birth. And if the three wise men followed Abraham's route from Babylon to Jerusalem, it's very likely they passed through Al Asad on their way.