Christmas Star Mystery Continues
2008 12 30

By Andrew Fazekas | nationalgeographic.com

In the Bible, a celestial beacon now known as the Star of Bethlehem led the Magi, or wise men, to Jesus's manger.

Astronomers have been debating for centuries whether the star existed and, if so, what it might have been. Comets, meteor showers, and supernovae have all been proposed, but in recent years two main theories have come to dominate the discussion.

The first relates to a singular planetary gathering, or conjunction, of the bright planets Venus and Jupiter. A particularly striking conjunction occurred in June 17, 2 B.C.

It makes for a probable Christmas star, some astronomers say, because the two bright planets appeared so close in the evening sky that they would have seemed to merge.

"There is no doubt that for skywatchers at the time it looked like a massive, single starlike object in the western evening sky," said Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.

(Venus and Jupiter were also in conjunction this December.)

But serious questions linger as to whether this date could really signify Jesus's birth.

"There is considerable ambiguity about the exact date of birth of Christ. There is no authoritative record to establish that," said Marvin Bolt, director of the History of Astronomy Department at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois.

A Celestial Series
But those who study the historical and theological aspects of astronomy see the Christmas Star story as a much more elaborate event.

"Astronomers today are looking for a spectacular event in the sky that modern tools and technologies are able to pinpoint, but they are completely missing the cultural impact and importance of the story itself," said Bolt.

Bolt supports an alternative theory that a complex series of celestial alignments between the Moon, Jupiter, and a particular group of stars—all of which had deep meaning to astrologer-astronomers at the time—added up to create the legend.

The sequence of celestial events began in April of 6 B.C., starting with Jupiter positioning itself in the constellation Aries. Over the following months, Jupiter was also twice in close conjunction with Earth's moon, and paired up with Saturn.

Aries was considered the sign of the Jews, and Jupiter's movements in the sequence carried the meaning of conferring kingship.

Planetariums Align
The conjunction theory is strictly astronomical in nature, while the more nuanced approach attempts to peer into the minds of ancient skywatchers.

"It's not a matter of looking at astronomical events we today would find striking. You have to look at what people 2,000 years ago might have thought was significant to their lives," Bolt said.

While the newer theory is more plausible, said the Griffith Observatory's Krupp, it will take some time for it to take hold in the astronomical community.

But some planetariums have been changing their traditional "Star of the Magi" shows to incorporate this alternate historical interpretation of the nativity story.

"Many planetariums have even scrapped their old shows entirely and are putting forward an account that is based on this new theory," Bolt said.

Krupp said profound developments are unlikely unless new data come to light.

"At this point if we want to find out what really happened 2,000 years ago, we need to have ... confirmation that refers to the birth of Christ—something that clearly demonstrates that this person was born at a particular date and time," he said.

Article from: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/12/081224-star-bethlehem.html



Related Articles
When Was Jesus Christ Born?
Who Were The Magi?
Where Did Christianity Really Come From?
Behind The Bible Fraud - What Was The Church Trying To Hide?


Latest News from our Front Page

Exponential growth of Ashkenazi Jews following a Medieval population bottleneck
2014 09 17
A recent paper by Marta Costa et al. found that around 80% of Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA had a prehistoric European origin (and ruled out the Khazar hypothesis). Combined with previous Y chromosome studies indicating that the male line is Middle Eastern, the results suggested a scenario in which Jewish males married European females after traveling to Europe. Now another paper, ...
Bankers Rule: City of London vs. Scottish Independence
2014 09 17
Now that the independence referendum is too close to call, the bankers express their worry. The media blitz ramps up to tip the outcome. Scottish independence has finally rattled the City of London has the usual banksters forecasting the dislocations from a currency panic. Scotland has a long and noteworthy history of banking. Money, savings and investing is entrenched in the ...
French separatists want Scots to say "yes"
2014 09 17
Separatist leaders in Brittany, Corsica and the French Basque Country will watch with interest as Scotland votes on independence next week, but they don’t expect France to follow the UK’s lead any time soon. Pro-independence activists point to the fact they have their own languages and cultural identities. France, however, remains a deeply centralized country and any talk of a negotiated ...
Devil’s Deal: US-Backed Syrian Rebels Already Signed Pact with ISIS Prior to Haines Beheading
2014 09 17
While Washington considers appropriating half a billion in funds to the Syrian rebels, we now learn that opposition groups the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and al Qaeda affiliate ‘al Nusra Front’, have officially aligned themselves with ISIS… Despite grand words by US President Obama and British PM David Cameron, here’s what’s really behind their plan to bomb ISIS in Syria… In a ...
World War III for Dummies
2014 09 16
A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding the Present World Situation. 1998 - 2000 Powerful elites and influential think tanks forecast a coming period of American aggression. Zbigniew Brzezinski speaks for the Globalist faction of the western PRC (Predatory Ruling Class) in ’The Grand Chessboard’, a book in which he openly advocates for bolder American action in dominating the Eurasian land mass. During this ...
More News »