An image of the the three wise men following the star of Bethlehem
Click on image for full size
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)
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on October 29th at 2:19 p.m. EST. The sky was clear and the weather was great. This was the America's 123rd manned space mission. A huge...more
Scientists found a satellite orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is the second one ever! A special telescope allows scientists to look through Earth's atmosphere. The first satellite found was Dactyl....more
The United States wants Russia to put the service module in orbit! The module is part of the International Space Station. It was supposed to be in space over 2 years ago. Russia just sent supplies to the...more
A coronal mass ejection (CME) happened on the Sun last month. The material that was thrown out from this explosion passed the ACE spacecraft. ACE measured some exciting things as the CME material passed...more
Trees and plants are a very important part of this Earth. Trees and plants are nature's air conditioning because they help keep our Earth cool. On a summer day, walking bare-foot on the sidewalk burns,...more
There is something special happening in the night sky. Through mid-May, you will be able to see five planets at the same time! This doesn't happen very often, so you won't want to miss this. Use the links...more