Home > Astronomical Event, Ephemeris Program > 12/24/2018 – Ephemeris – The Star of Bethlehem a possible solution

12/24/2018 – Ephemeris – The Star of Bethlehem a possible solution

December 24, 2018

Ephemeris for Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24th. The Sun will rise at 8:18. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:06. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 7:35 this evening.

Last Thursday I talked about the timing of Jesus’ birth being just before Herod the Great’s death, which I suggested was in 1 BC due to a lunar eclipse. So the Star of Bethlehem could appear several years later than the triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BC that’s been popular. In 3 and again in 2 BC there were star-like conjunctions or apparent joinings of the planets Jupiter and Venus against the backdrop of constellation of Leo the Lion. A lion is related to Judah,, son of Jacob by a blessing the latter gave his 12 sons in Genesis. The first conjunction occurred in August of 3 BC in the morning sky. In June the next year the two planets got together again, this time in the evening sky, a month or more after Jesus would have been born in the lambing season of spring.

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


August 12, 3 BC conjunction

Here is an animation created using Stellarium of Jupiter and Venus, the brighter of the two seeming to pass very close on August 12, 3 BC in the early morning twilight.  Regulus is the brightest star in Leo.

The above conjunction would occur near Jupiter’s heliacal rising, its first appearance in the morning sky after having left the evening sky.  An event signifying beginnings or birth in many cultures.  10 months later they again conjoin, this time much closer.

The second appearance of the "Star"

On June 16th 2 BC, this time in the evening, Venus and Jupiter seem to coalesce as one, at least to the naked eye.  Created using Stellarium.

I’ll add in the triple conjunction  of 7 BC just to cover all bases.

Triple conjunction

The Jupiter-Saturn triple conjunction of 7 BC. This animation is at 5 day intervals.  The Moon will be popping in and out of the view. It end in February of 6 BC when Mars and the Moon enter\s the picture. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Cartes du Ciel.

To the problem i mentioned in my December 20th post is if Herod died in 1 BC the flight to Egypt of the Holy Family would have lasted, maybe 9 months or a year.  The traditional length of the flight to Egypt is 2 years.  If we gave Herod, according to Josephus, 16 months between the lunar eclipse in January of 1 BC and Passover of AD 1 when Herod died, then the Flight to Egypt could be 2 years in keeping with tradition.  My December 20th post is here: https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/2018/12/20/.

So was the Star the triple conjunction of 7 BC, the two conjunctions of 3 and 2 BC, a miraculous event outside of nature, or a bit of mythology tucked into Matthew’s Gospel.    We will probably never know.

Have a very merry and safe Christmas.

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