Star of Bethlehem

The past is full of legends and present a full explanation. At the very least, it is trying to be. We love to explore the real phenomena of nature, which may explain the seemingly supernatural events described in myths and religious texts. This year, we wondered, where did this whole story with the "Star of Bethlehem". And it turned out that we were not the first.

Star of Bethlehem

One thing is for sure: for what would actually not follow the three Magi, or "wise men from the East" (there is no reason to believe that there were three, but that's another topic), it was definitely not a star . We're a little digging in the books and have chosen some of the most interesting theories about what they could see in the sky on that fateful year for humanity.


Version with a comet - a clear favorite when it comes to popular explanations of the phenomenon of the Star of Bethlehem. She even has long been depicted on Christmas cards. Moreover, it could be not just some nameless comet.

The fact that Halley's comet passed by Earth at about 11 or 12 BC. And although we do not know exactly when Jesus was born, it could be that in the time period.

The only problem is that comets were well known to the wise men versed in astronomy. And what's more, they were considered a bad omen. So we probably can shrug off this hypothesis.


Here again we are dealing with a different candidate, which fits perfectly in the intended period of time. Chinese and Korean astronomers observed a supernova just about 5 BC. And a bonus: if this is the right answer, then the Magi led through the desert is a star. The only problem is that, as the ancient scholars wrote, this supernova was barely visible on the horizon. This is a big minus. Yes, and is not suitable for the Christmas tree top. So, cross out, and this theory.


There is one thing that has always seemed to us a little bit strange. The Bible refers to "the star in the East", right? However, the Magi came from the East ... so perhaps it was not the "star of the West" from their point of view?

Well, some astronomers suggest that this is not so much about the literal location of the east, as the connection with the East, or the sunrise. In other words, maybe it was a star that was rising in the morning, just as the sun always comes from the east.

Which star can claim to be a "morning" status? Of course, the best suited for this role planet Venus. However, we are not very sure about this. Too many controversial assumptions.

The decision, which "contains holy water"

There is one answer that actually seems pretty accurate reflection of what the Bible says about the star of Bethlehem. Astronomer David Hughes proposed a theory based on an important assumption: it was not one cosmic phenomenon, but three. More precisely, it was one event that happened three times at different times.

The obvious explanation, says Hughes - lies in the fact that it was incredibly rare triple conjunction of the planets - when Jupiter and Saturn aligned in a straight line with the Earth. In 7 BC, the two biggest planets in our solar system perfectly lined up more than once, not even twice, but three times, 29 May, 29 September and 4 December. Such a triple alignment occurs once in about 900 years, so that the event was really unusual. Of course, it could easily be mistaken for any sign of the enlightened sages or magicians. As he said in an interview with the BBC deputy director of Jodrell Bank Observatory Tim O'Brien: "It's just amazing how attractive to human sight of two very bright objects, joined together in the sky." The idea is that the Magi could know that in Israel must be born prophesied by the king. And when they looked at the sky in his native city, perhaps in Babylon, they could make this a bright glow as a sign that it's time to hit the road. The second connection of the two planets could happen when they left Jerusalem, which would be a signal that they are on the right track. A third compound could be read as a warning that we should not tell Herod about what they saw. You know, this is probably a convincing version. Plus, Saturn's rings will look great on top of a tree.