Posts Tagged ‘2 BC’

12/24/2019 – Ephemeris – Was this the star of Bethlehem?

December 24, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:06, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:18. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 7:41 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. 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 coalesce on August 12, 3 BC in the early morning twilight. 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.  The first few frames contain the Sickle asterism of Leo the lion’s head and mane. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

I have much more information on this topic in my December 2, 2016 posting:

12/23/2016 – Ephemeris – Another possible set of events that could have been the Star of Bethlehem

December 23, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, December 23rd.  The Sun will rise at 8:18.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:06.  The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:43 tomorrow morning.

The brilliant planet Venus is out evening star now, and one could say that’s its our Christmas Star.  And perhaps it was, or was part of the Star of Bethlehem.  Back in August of  3 BC the planet Jupiter and Venus appeared to come very close to one another.  The term for such an apparent close approach is called a conjunction.  Astrologers make a big deal out of such a chance alignment.   It’s like a trick photo of someone in the foreground appearing to hold up or leaning on a more distant object.   Anyway, 10 months later in June of 2 BC Jupiter again appeared to join Venus, this time so close they could not be separated by the human eye.  This all occurred against the constellation of Leo the lion which in Genesis is the symbol of Judah.

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


Venus and Mars photograph

Venus and Mars in the twilight last night at 6 p.m., December 22, 2016. Photograph by Bob Moler.  Click on the image to enlarge.

I have more information on this set of conjunctions in my December 2 post announcing my program on the Star of Bethlehem: