An image of the the three wise men following the star of Bethlehem
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Image courtesy of Art Explosion clip art
Star of Wonder
News story originally written on December 18, 1997
In the traditional Christian story of Christmas, a star is described that glowed so bright in the sky that three kings, also known as wise men, followed it and it led them to Bethlehem soon after the baby Jesus was born. This star is known as the Star of Bethlehem, and astronomers have come up with many ideas about what that star may have been.
Some think it was a nova (an exploding star that would stay bright in the sky for a few days). Others think that it was not a star, but a comet. The reason most people agree on is that the bright star is a planetary conjunction. A conjunction is when two or more objects appear very close together in the sky.
Star of wonder, star of night! Star of royal beauty bright; westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy Perfect Light.
--Excerpted from the Christmas carol, "We Three Kings of Orient Are" (John Henry Hopkins, 1857)
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