What do you know about the 'Star of Bethlehem' that was mentioned in the New Testament of the Holy Bible?

Star of wonder, star of night! Star of royal beauty bright; westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy Perfect Light. --"We Three Kings of Orient Are"

The first recorded reference to the star of Bethlehem is found in the New Testament of the Bible. Here it says, "In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, 'Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star rising, and have come to pay him homage'."

Around this time of year, many people wonder about that star mentioned long ago. What's the astronomy behind the star?

Some think it was a nova (an exploding star that would stay bright in the sky for a few days). But that explanation does not allow for the two months the wise men needed to journey from Arabia or Mesopotamia.

Other people think that the star that was written of in the Bible was actually a comet. A comet could have moved across the sky during the journey of the wise men. But their is no historical record of a comet appearing around the time when Jesus was born.

The most probable astronomical theory behind the star is that of a planetary conjunction. A conjunction is when two or more objects appear very close together in the sky. The closer the objects, the brighter the conjunction. The conjunction of Jupiter with Regulus, the star of kingship happened around the time Jesus was born.

Finally, some would say that the star was not any specific astronomical event, but simply the God of the Bible announcing the coming of Jesus.

Submitted by Gene (Florida, USA)
(December 18, 1997)

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