Archive for December 25, 2020

12/25/2020 – Ephemeris – Did the “Star” of Bethlehem appear in 3 BC and again in 2 BC?

December 25, 2020 Comments off

Merry Christmas, this is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Christmas Day, Friday, December 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:07, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:19. The Moon, halfway from first quarter to full, will set at 4:53 tomorrow morning.

Many writers of the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD place Jesus’ birth around 2 BC, which had to be before Herod the Great’s death, which I suggest was in 1 BC marked by to a total lunar eclipse. 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 the 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, just after Jesus would have been born in the lambing season of spring.

The event 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 coalesce on August 12, 3 BC in the early morning twilight. The ghostly image popping up in the second frame is the thin crescent Moon showing earth shine. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

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. Regulus (The Little King star) is the brightest star in Leo the lion. To the upper right of it is the Sickle, the front part of the lion and his head and mane. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.