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Star of Bethlehem : astronomical explanations


peterbolson
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There has been a few programs on this and at the end they can identify nothing on the astronomical side.

Uranus is far too faint to consider, consider the problems we have seeing it with an 8 or 10 inch scope.

You also have to take into account that much of what we read was produced 400-600 years later.

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Nothing special showing up on Stellarium for 25-12-0000 . . . . :p

Steve.

I learned this in History class the other day: he wasn't born on December 25th at all, but rather on a completely different date (I don't think it has been found exactly) but the Roman Emperor Constantine changed it to the 25th of December because there was no holiday on that day. The reason they didn't just leave it the way it was? His real birthday was another holiday for a very different group of people...

But I could only think of Betelgeuse (which was brighter at the time), Sirius, Venus, or a supernova that was the star of Bethlehem.

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For me the astronomical explanation does not fit. Comets and Conjunctions were well known at the time and could not be described as an exceptional event that lasts for the period of time needed. There is no Supernova recorded elsewhere so that does not fit either.

The event must not be viewed from our perspective of the 20th/21st century. In Roman times the "Wise Men" would have been Astrologers, looking at their astrological charts more than the heavens but taking their clues from the position of the planets in the constellations. This would explain why only the three "Wise Men" could see the "star" and it was not noticed by the local populace.

Michael Molnar has presented this in Sky & Telescope, December 2008, p112, in a book and on his web site michaelmolnar.com. His conclusion is that the "Star of Bethlehem" is in fact Jupiter in the constellation of Aries, the astrological sign of Judea. Close conjunctions with the Moon indicated, to the astrologers at that time, a King's birth. This astronomical event most likely occurred on the 17th April, 6BC.

Personally, this strikes me as the most satisfactory explanation for the story.

Nigel

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I thought the term "Star" was used when referring to the current royal heir to the Kingdom of David (Judea) without having to use a real name as to do so would would incur the wrath of Herod, the man appointed "Ruler of Judea" by the Romans who had conquered the surrounding area a number of years beforehand. As the "Star" had no kingdom to rule and therefore no safe stronghold to reside in, a nomadic lifestyle was adopted which subsequently resulted in the "Star" being described as "wandering". Therefore, the "Wandering Star" referred to in the texts of the time would be a person rather than a celestial object.

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Chinese lantern..

I think it is just one of those stories that grew and grew.

A guiding star is just a nice romantic addition, it's like old world special effects.

I thought Christmas was mugged off the Pagans festival of Yule on the 21st (ish) of December.

Edited by foundaplanet
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You know that the telly is rubbish when this thread rears it head every year.

As the "Star of Bethlehem" has apparent supernatural abilities and is a matter of faith then it really doesn't belong here, and plenty of discussion has been had about it before.

So as a gift, here's a link to the Wiki article : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_of_Bethlehem

Make of it what you like.

Thread closed for now, thanks :)

Tim

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