Monday, December 24, 2012

Was the Star of Bethlehem Real ?

EarthSky // Tonight // Astronomy Essentials Dec 23, 2012

A wondrous star is said to have appeared over the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem. It has grown to be a major symbol of Christmas around the world. But is the star fact or fiction?

The Star of Bethlehem, or Christmas Star, is mentioned in the Bible. It’s said to have led the three wise men to Bethlehem.

Christmas star over street in Mumbai, India (Rudolph.A.Furtado)

It has become a major symbol of Christmas throughout the world.

So imagine, if you will, the silhouettes of three regally attired men on camels. They are gazing across gently rolling hills or dunes of white, to a tiny solitary building in the distance. The night is dark, and one exceedingly bright star appears to hover over the small building, sending a bright shaft of light earthward to illuminate its outline. Another light glows gently inside.

That is the picture most of us have of the Christmas Star, but it’s an image derived more from imagination and greeting cards than from the Bible. In fact, the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament is the only place this “star” is mentioned in the Bible (Matt 2:2, 7-10, King James Version). Even there, information on the star is sparse. The most telling reference is Matt. 2:9, “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” For anyone inclined to insist on the literal truth of scripture, this verse solves the question. If this verse is literally true, then the Star of Bethlehem could not have been any known natural phenomenon, simply because none would move that way.

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EarthSky 22 Weekly Radio Program (2012 December 22 - Audio: 22 minutes) - In the second half of the program, Dr. Bradley Schaefer, professor of astronomy and physics at Louisiana State University, gives some new insights on the Star of Bethlehem, which he says may have simply been an astrological prediction of a horoscope used by the Magi, who were really priests of the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism:
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Source: .

Classic "The Star of Bethlehem" Sky Drama, performed at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Science each Christmas season 1939 through 1990. This historic sky show talks about the possible natural explanations for the Star of Bethlehem and the historic relationship between the Season of Winter and the Christmas holiday (web site includes entire Planetarium Show Script):
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