star of bethlehem, solar system, astronomy, astrology
star of bethlehem, solar system, astronomy, astrology
Matthew's writing - The Clues Part 1

The puzzle
Why was the star "visible" only to the Magi,
what was it and how did it occur?

"And Jesus having been born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is he who is born King of the Jews ? For we saw his star in the East and we came to bow to him.'" (Mt 2:1, 2:2)

star of bethlehem, the clues, the puzzle, Matthew's writing

Many astronomers, over the centuries, turned back the clocks in what became a collective effort to find the star.  The only astronomical events* of any particular significance were planetary conjunctions. The most popular of these conjunctions took place in seven B.C.

star of bethlehem, solar system, astronomy, astrology

The Astronomical Theory:
The planets appear to move at varying speeds across the ecliptic (the path of the Sun).  At different times throughout centuries they appear (from our vantage point) to cluster or form "conjunctions".
A perfect planetary conjunction (astronomical) is the apparent meeting of two or more planets that are so perfectly aligned that they create the illusion of one large and exceptionally bright star. Therefore conjunctions may have been what Matthew was writing about.

The astronomers found that there were three conjunctions of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BC (both bright and visible without telescopes) however, these conjunctions were not close enough in declination to create the illusion of one exceptionally bright star.  No other astronomical event that fits Matthew's description could be found and these astronomer guys, over 18 centuries, diligently scoured every inch of the heavens, over and over again.  The "window" of their search was expanded from 11 BC to 1 AD.  If the star were in the "apparent" heavens it would not have escaped their scrutiny.  This result also confirms Matthew's account of Herod's response to the Magi...."What Star"?

An additional problem with the ( other ) various conjunction theories ( later than 4 BC ) is that Matthew states that Christ was born before Heord's demise.  The historical Herod died in 4 BC.  The choice presented at this point is:

a) conclude that Matthew and the bible are wrong (an academic faux pas ) 
b) conclude that the portions of Matthew's Gospel are a literary embellishment
c) conclude that the bible is correct but history is wrong and Herod's death must have happened at another time despite historical eyewitness accounts (another faux pas )

d) look someplace else.
The Heliocentric - Sun centered - Solar System

e) use another method.
(astrological rather than astronomical events)

Matthew's completed description
The clues Part #2 
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Note:   The inclusion of Herod in the story of the star provides very valuable guidelines.  Herod is mentioned also in history (non biblical) books, and his death in 4 BC was marked by a lunar eclipse .   Matthew's writing indicates the birth of Christ occured during Herod's reign  (2:1) and that after Herod's death the Christ child returned from Egypt, with Mary and Joseph, to Jerusalem. (Mt 2:12, 2:19-21).

*Important astronomical note: Williams Comet Catalogue (of 1871) mentions a "broom comet" appearing in March of 5 BC and recorded by Chinese astronomers. The comet appeared in the constellation of Capricorn and remained visible for 90 days!  No one has concluded that this comet was the star because it would have been visible to everyone and, although very highly significant, it does not fit Matthew's completed description - The clues Part #2 ( allow page to fully render )

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  John Charles Webb, Jr. -  ©Copyright 1997- 2008 - All Rights Reserved - United States of America