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Was the Star of Bethlehem a real astronomical event?
A myth created by the early church?
Explore the history and science for yourself...
"This explanation of the Star is compelling"...
NASA's Chief Engineer for the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station, Director of
the Columbia Shuttle Accident Task Force"
"a convincing case...a mystery solved"
Former Director, NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
"well-researched and reasonable"
Former Chief of Planetary Astronomy, NASA, and Technical Editor, Sky & Telescope magazine
"wide-ranging and insightful scholarship"
Former Publisher and Editor, Scientific American magazine, and President, American
Association for the Advancement of Science
"models the scientific method at its best"
Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary
SOMETHING IN THE "NORMAL" NIGHT SKY which was startling when explained. That is the hypothesis for the Star we developed in Setting the Stage. Our process of elimination has knocked out meteors, comets and novae as candidates. That leaves planets.
The fact also is that The Bible doesn't disagree with science unless science tries to disallow for God.
Conjunction is a term used in positional astronomy and astrology. It means that... two celestial bodies appear near one another in the sky.
Apparent retrograde motion is the motion of a planetary body in a direction opposite to that of other bodies within its system as observed from a particular vantage point [such as the Earth].
The site you linked to is very text-heavy, with many pages of lengthy preamble and a messy, complex exegesis. For the benefit of those who haven’t the time or the patience to plough through it all, here is the executive summary:
The Star of Bethlehem was a conjunction of Jupiter and the bright star Regulus that occurred a year of so before the birth of Jesus during a period when Jupiter was in retrograde motion
Jupiter had finished crowning Regulus. The Planet of Kings traveled on through the star field toward another spectacular rendezvous, this time with Venus, the Mother Planet. This conjunction was so close and so bright that it is today displayed in hundreds of planetaria around the world by scientists who may know nothing of Messiah. They do it because what Jupiter did makes such a great planetarium show. Jupiter appeared to join Venus. The planets could not be distinguished with the naked eye.
However, such an explanation does nothing to confirm claims of the divinity of Jesus or the truth of Christianity. It merely suggests that the Star of Bethlehem story has some basis in fact
I want to be clear from the outset, this story is not a story of religion or a call if you will, to the people who read it to "be saved" and become religious nor is it meant to condem. The truth is , it's a story that not only proves that science has this one right but God also had it right before science caught up.
Lets first look at what some of the experts have to say about the story. Look at their credentials if you will below.
An astronomer tracking the movement of planets through the star field watches not so much on the scale of minutes, but on the longer scale of days, weeks and months. On this scale of time, Jupiter did stop. On December 25 of 2 BC as it entered retrograde, Jupiter reached full stop in its travel through the fixed stars. Magi viewing from Jerusalem would have seen it stopped in the sky above the little town of Bethlehem.
Text"About 99.9% of the Star of Bethlehem stuff is nutty, but this isn't that. It's well-researched and reasonable."
Ronald A. Schorn, Ph.D.—
Schorn founded and served as Chief of the Planetary Astronomy department at NASA and was Technical Editor of Sky & Telescope magazine. He is the author of Planetary Astronomy
"Larson's understanding and use of orbital mechanics is accurate. This explanation of the Star of Bethlehem is compelling to me. It is consistent with the Biblical story. It pleases me that I can accept it as an engineer, and as an astronomy enthusiast
Frank T. Buzzard, Ph.D.—
NASA's Chief Engineer for both the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. Director of the Columbia shuttle accident task force.
"Your wide-ranging and insightful scholarship in the Scriptures and in the parallel historical record from Josephus, Tacitus and the rest! Your command of Kepler's clock!!... My hat is off to you."
Gerard Piel, Ph.D.—
Former Publisher and Editor, Scientific American magazine
Piel (1915-2004) was the holder of over twenty honorary doctorates. He published and edited Scientific American for nearly four decades, and served as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A prolific writer, his last book is The Age of Science: What Scientists Learned in the Twentieth Century.
Jupiter did stop. On December 25 of 2 BC as it entered retrograde, Jupiter reached full stop in its travel through the fixed stars. Magi viewing from Jerusalem would have seen it stopped in the sky above the little town of Bethlehem.
Larson then uses the Starry Night software to search for astronomical events that occurred above the ancient Near East around 3–2 BC. He found a conjunction of Jupiter (the “king planet”) and Regulus (the “king star”) in 3 BC, which he claims would have announced the conception of Jesus to the magi. Following this model, roughly nine months later a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus formed the “star” of Bethlehem that led the magi from the east to Jerusalem. Finally, a few months later as the magi arrive in Jerusalem, Jupiter enters retrograde motion. According to Larson, it stops right over Bethlehem to lead the magi to Jesus’ location.