A turn toward brighter days

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DANIEL MCCARTHY, SENIOR EDITORIt may seem counterintuitive to plan a cover feature on solar imaging for the December issue, which will be distributed just weeks before the winter solstice, but what better emblem to invoke brighter days ahead.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made a tumultuous year even more difficult. It has brought tragedy and trauma for families, and some variation of Hobson’s choice for business and industry. With case numbers rapidly rising again, it feels like 2020’s darkest days are here almost on cue with the shortest days of the year.

Ancient Romans marked the winter solstice with the Saturnalia holiday, which — while typified by more familiar festivities such as gaming, music, feasts, and gifts — also had a notable theme of reversal. Masters served their slaves for the holiday, for example, and criminals were treated like royalty.

Slaves and criminals aside, we’re anticipating a similar turning of the season this month. While these may be 2020’s darkest days, both literally and figuratively, there are some bright spots on the immediate and more distant horizon.

On a personal and professional note, the January edition of Photonics Spectra will be the first issue to fully reflect our new editorial vision for the magazine. Coverage of science and basic research will not diminish and, in fact, will continue to dig deeper with the attentive curation and outreach of news editors Jake Saltzman and Joel Williams. Our monthly features and columns, meanwhile, will signify a return to form by focusing more on education, problem-solving, and practical insights into industry applications and trends.

January will also see the inauguration of the Photonics Spectra Conference, a four-day online event highlighted by technical presentations from academic and industry leaders. Click here for a preview of our keynotes, as well as the programs for all four conference tracks. You can also view the programs and register for free at

On a broader stage, news of the development of at least two COVID-19 vaccines bodes well for families, medical personnel, and frontline workers. And it also breeds optimism about the return of crowded trade show floors next year. I hope to see you there.

Published: December 2020

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