Home > Astronomical History, Ephemeris Program > 12/22/2016 – Ephemeris – Could Jupiter and Saturn have combined to be the Star of Bethlehem?

12/22/2016 – Ephemeris – Could Jupiter and Saturn have combined to be the Star of Bethlehem?

December 22, 2016

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 22nd.  The Sun will rise at 8:17.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:05.  The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 2:45 tomorrow morning.

This morning the planet Jupiter is seen right below the waning crescent Moon.  It reminds me of one of the possible answers to the questions to what the Star of Bethlehem was.  Back in 7 BC Jupiter passed Saturn three times in that year.  This is a reasonably rare occurrence especially against a particular constellation, which in this case was Pisces the fish, which would occur every 800 plus years.  Early in the run of this program there was another so-called triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.  This time it was against the constellation of Virgo the virgin in 1980 and 81.  Jupiter passes Saturn every 20 years, but only when it does so when they are opposite the Sun in the sky is there a chance for a triple conjunction.  Tomorrow I’ll look at two really close conjunctions of Jupiter and Venus that also could have been seen by the Magi as the Star of Bethlehem.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Jupiter and the Moon

Jupiter and the Moon at 7 a.m. this morning, December 22, 2016. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter-Saturn Triple Conjunction

Jupiter and Saturn pass each other three times from May to December in 7 BC. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts) and GIMP.  Click image to enlarge.

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