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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 shortly after the baby Jesus was born. Known as the Star of Bethlehem, this bright star has been intriguing to astronomers who have developed several possible explanations of what that astronomic sighting may have been.

Some think it was a nova (an exploding star that would stay bright in the sky for a few days). Others hypothesize that it was not a star, but a comet. The most probable astronomical hypothesis to explain 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)

Last modified December 19, 2007 by Becca Hatheway.

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