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Posts Tagged ‘Star of Bethlehem’

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

December 24, 2018 Comments off

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.

Addendum

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.

12/20/2019 – Ephemeris – The Star of Bethlehem, the problem of when

December 20, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 20th. The Sun will rise at 8:16. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:04. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 6:46 tomorrow morning.

In looking at the possible origin of the Star of Bethlehem, the latest Jesus could have been born is before the death of Herod the Great. The Jewish historian Josephus says that Herod died between a lunar eclipse and Passover, with most Star investigators pointing to the partial eclipse of March 13, 4 BC, one month before Passover that year. Problem is that Josephus devotes 4 chapters of the 17th book of Jewish Antiquities to the events in that span. I think they chose that eclipse to fit in with the triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BC that was the big favorite for the star. There is another, better total lunar eclipse on January 10, 1 BC that is 3 months before Passover that would better fit Josephus’ narrative and a different Star possibility. More Monday.

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

Addendum

The passage about Herod’s death from the eclipse of the Moon to Passover is in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews is in Book 17, Chapter 6, Paragraph 4 through Chapter 9, paragraph 3.

In doing some additional research since recording the program, the footnotes in William Whiston’s translation suggests a period between the eclipse and Passover at 13 months.  Antiquities of the Jews can be found here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2848/2848-h/2848-h.htm.  Of course I could extend the time frame of Herod’s death for the 1 BC eclipse to the Passover 16 months later.  That would solve one of the problems I had with the timing of the visit of the Magi.  But you’ll have to wait until Monday to find out what that is.

12/06/2018 – Ephemeris – Tomorrow I’m going to present a talk about the Star of Bethlehem

December 6, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 6th. The Sun will rise at 8:05. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 5:02. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 8:10 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. I will be giving a talk investigating the origin of the Star of Bethlehem. This will be at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory located south of Traverse City on Birmley Road. The talk is a scientific treatment of the subject, rather than a religious one. We’ll look at the usual suspects for the star. We’ll see what the Gospel writers may have gotten right and possibly wrong. We’ll look at historical writings and oriental observations of the heavens around that time. This will be augmented by computer simulations of what might be important celestial events visible around that time. There is no admission charge. There will be viewing of the skies afterward if it’s clear.

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

12/25/2017 – Ephemeris – The 3 and 2 BC “Star of Bethlehem” conjunctions were repeated 3 and 2 years ago

December 25, 2017 1 comment

Merry Christmas. This is Ephemeris for Christmas Day, Monday, December 25th. The Sun will rise at 8:18. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:07. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 12:28 tomorrow morning.

August three years ago and June two years ago we had a near repeat of two very close conjunctions of Jupiter and Venus that occurred in 3 and 2 BC. These two conjunctions spaced by a month more than the human gestation period and seen against the constellation of Leo the lion, symbol of Judah could have brought the Magi, who were Persian astrologer-priests to Jerusalem, capital of Judea. The events could have signified the them the birth of a king of Judea. It was the interpretation of the scriptures by the scribes that actually sent them to Bethlehem. This version of the Star of Bethlehem seems to be the one that’s being accepted more and more by those who believe the Star had a physical reality.

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

Addendum

I dredged these up from the Ephemeris archives

June of 2 BC just after sunset Jupiter and Venus again cross paths.

June 16, 2 BC just after sunset Jupiter and Venus again cross paths, at one point too close to be separated with the naked eye. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter-Venus animation

Jupiter-Venus approach animation June 11 to July 1, 2015 at 10:30 p.m. Created using Stellarium and GIMP. Click on image to enlarge.

A link to the 2015 posting is here.  I didn’t realize until later that this was a near repeat of the 3 ans 2 BC conjunctions.  Here’s a link to my posting of the August conjunction.

 

12/22/2017 – Ephemeris – The joining of a god and goddess, a second possibility of the Star of Bethlehem

December 22, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Friday, December 22nd. The Sun will rise at 8:16. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:05. The Moon, half way from new to first quarter, will set at 9:21 this evening.

On Tuesday I talked about what I said was one of two possible physical explanations for the Star of Bethlehem. Here is the second. On August 13th of 3 BC Jupiter and Venus briefly merged in the pre-dawn skies against the constellation of Leo the lion. A month later Jupiter was in conjunction with Regulus the bright star in Leo, the little king star. Then 9 months later, after sunset on June 16th of 2 BC the two planets again joined as one in Leo. The king of the planets twice mating with Venus as Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility, against the constellation of the lion signifying Judah in Genesis? One might find meaning in all that, especially the Magi, who were Zoroastrian astrologer-priests from Persia.

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

Addendum

Jupiter-Venus conjunction of August 3, 3 BC.

Animation of the Jupiter-Venus conjunction of August 13, 3 BC. in the morning twilight. Created using Stellarium.

June of 2 BC just after sunset Jupiter and Venus again cross paths.

June 16, 2 BC just after sunset Jupiter and Venus again cross paths, at one point too close to be separated with the naked eye. Created using Stellarium.

 

12/19/2017 – Ephemeris – Were celestial events in 7 BC interpreted as the Star of Bethlehem?

December 19, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 19th. The Sun will rise at 8:15. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:04. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 6:34 this evening.

This year we have no bright evening Christmas star. But what about the one described in the Bible, in the gospel of Luke? We will look today at the first of two events that may have been recorded as the Star of Bethlehem. In 7 BC there was a rare event over 6 months when three times the planet Jupiter passed Saturn against the stars of the constellation Pisces. Could the Persian astrologer priests called Magi, have read into the event enough significance to start the journey to Jerusalem in search of the new born King of the Jews? It was the scribe’s readings that then sent them to Bethlehem. It is thought that Pisces was associated with the Hebrews, Jupiter with the Messiah or world ruler, and Saturn with the peoples of Palestine.

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

Addendum

Triple conjunction

The Jupiter-Saturn triple conjunction of 7 BC. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Cartes du Ciel.

The animation above shows the planets at 5 day intervals in 7 and a bit in 6 BC.  The normal or posigrade motion is toward the east or left.  When an outer planet approaches its opposition from the Sun, it seems to slow and reverse direction and head westward for a time, which is retrograde motion.  After a time it reverses and heads back eastward again.  That’s why the planets seem to see-saw back and forth.  Jupiter passes Saturn every 20 years.  The next time will be in 2020.  On my Wednesday planet charts Jupiter is seen sneaking up on Saturn week by week.  In order to have three conjunctions instead of one, the planets need to be near opposition from the Sun when they pass.  The last time that happened was in 1980, but it wasn’t against Pisces.  Triple conjunctions against a particular zodiacal constellation are much rarer.

The dates for key events in the animation above are:

  • First Conjunction May 29, 7 BC
  • Planets are Stationary July 6, and begin retrograde motion
  • Second Conjunction October 11
  • Planets are Stationary November 1 and resume posigrade motion
  • Third Conjunction on December 8
  • Mars joins February 26, 6 BC

Retrograde motion was difficult to explain when one thinks that the Earth is the center of the Universe and stationary, while the planets supposedly orbited in perfect uniform circular motion around it.  It’s easy when the Earth is a moving planet like the rest.  When an outer (superior) planet is at opposition from the Sun.  The Earth is between the Sun and planet and moving faster.  So we’re passing the outer planet.  When you are in a car passing another, the car being passed seems to move backward with respect to your car.  Since the planets orbits are like a race track, we get to lap the outer planets at regular intervals.

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.

Addendum

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:  https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/12022016-ephemeris-my-talk-about-the-star-of-bethlehem-is-tonight/