In the week of the last Christmas, we were fortunate to witness one of the rarest astronomical events, something that last happened a few centuries ago – the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. But what does this celestial phenomenon have in common with the biblical Star of Bethlehem?
According to astronomers and scientists throughout the ages, the star mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew and the Great Conjunction may actually have been the same thing and this was simply an interpretation of the rare astronomical event.
So far, all the possible explanations include different types of cosmic events, whether it was a Great Conjunction or something similar. Nothing is conclusive but if we consider that the New Testament mentions real events, there should be a reason or an explanation for the Star of Bethlehem.
1. According to the Gospel of Matthew, the Star of Bethlehem appeared when Jesus Christ was born.
2. The Star appeared exactly above Jesus’s birthplace and remained there as a signal.
3. As the story goes, this is how the three wise men (also known as Magi/kings) who wanted to present Jesus with gifts found him.
4. Debates about the real cause behind the celestial phenomenon have not ceased since the 13th century.
5. Early theories included a comet, a supernova, a meteor, and anything similar that you can imagine. All these have since been proven impossible.
6. German astronomer Johannes Kepler suggested the possibility that the Star of Bethlehem could have been a Great Conjunction in the 17th century.
7. Experts have suggested several cosmic alignments from this period that could have influenced the story of the Star of Bethlehem if we consider it true.
8. The most promising conjunction is that of Jupiter and Saturn in 6 BC. It fits the story of the three wise men better than any other possibility.
9. The other most probable conjunction is that of Venus and Jupiter which occurred in 2 BC. As there were no telescopes in antiquity, people who witnessed this alignment would have seen the two planets as one.
10. In the end, despite the obvious scientific attempts, this mystery may never be resolved. All we are left with is a choice – to believe in the legend or not.
The Star of Bethlehem: Do we need a scientific explanation?
All I know is that religion and science rarely make a good couple. And yet, trying to explain everything with science is literally the most common thing nowadays.
My opinion is that the mystery of the Star of Bethlehem will never be solved. I also believe that this is how it should be. Although religion is not a big part of my life, I believe that it should be felt and experienced but there is no need for it to be explained.
Scientifically, there is no possible way that a star could have led the three Magi to Jesus Christ. Celestial objects change their position according to Earth’s rotation. If you follow a star, it may lead you somewhere but that would not be a straight direction.
Therefore, I will say it once again, you either believe or you don’t. There is no need to search for a scientific explanation of something that goes beyond the known scientific laws.
In each case, we all saw countless headlines in December suggesting that the Great Conjunction is also a rare chance to see the Star of Bethlehem. If we believe this theory, then we were twice as fortunate to see this astronomical event as the next similar alignment will only occur in 2080.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe the Star of Bethlehem was influenced by any celestial conjunction or was it actually a unique phenomenon caused by the birth of Jesus Christ?
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• Betz, E. (2020, December 18). The Star of Bethlehem: Can science explain what it really was?
• Carter, J. (2020, December 13). How You Can See A Once-In-10-Lifetimes ‘Christmas Star’ Planets This Week With Your Naked Eyes.
• Old Farmer’s Almanac. (2020, December 22). The Star of Bethlehem.
• What was the Star of Bethlehem? (2020, December 21).