Evidence for the 'STAR OF BETHLEHEM' in the "HEAVENS"

“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1 KJV)

“For He is the living God, And steadfast forever… He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth…” (Daniel 6:26-27 NKJ)

The opinions have ranged from the 'Star of Bethlehem' being either a complete myth or icon invented by the followers of Jesus Christ, to support their claims of His actual birth and divinity; to possibly being a real life event that may have occurred, but having been manipulated and distorted by the same followers of that day, as providing "New Testament" evidence of the Messiah's arrival versus the more established "Old Testament" system of beliefs; thus to become the fabled story that it is today. Even amongst circles within the Christian community, there has been great debate as to the validity of this celestial event or what it may have actually been. It is fortunate that by faith (and the will of God) that this story has been carried as long as it has, until the "modern world" could catch up with what the "Old World" beliefs had already held as a "truth".

Other than the accounts listed in the Holy Scriptures and other historical documentation, there is now more scientific proof in our modern age than ever, which provides definitive evidence for what this legendary "star" may have really been. With the aid of modern science and computers, the speculation about the actual 'Star of Bethlehem' has become more of a fact than a story out of Christian myth.

The original problem had arisen with the historical documentation and accounts from scripture having been somewhat vague and less precise in naming a specific date for this possible event. Newer scientific methods have fortunately proven instrumental in determining a much closer projection and can likewise show evidence of potential candidates for this "star".

There are several hypothesis based on astronomical and astrological facts that can now be calculated in reverse, producing models of the stars that were visible in the night sky, as they would have appeared to the people of the Middle East at the speculated time of Christ's birth. This helps to not only determine a more accurate date for the birthdate of Jesus but also provides verification of a potential origin for the legendary 'Star of Bethlehem'.

The evidence to support these theories shows that a series of stellar and planetary events did occur in the heavens and would have been visible to the naked eye by the people of that time. The "wise men" of course (being astronomers and astrologers) were experts in these fields of study and would have likewise foreseen these events ahead of time, thus witnessing their occurrence in "real time" as they transpired.

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MODERN SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY

By using the same documentation that projects the potential birthdate for Jesus Christ (between the years of 7 BC and 1 BC), astronomical models have also been developed that can suggest possible evidence for the actual 'Star of Bethlehem'. To find the best candidate, we must first rule out some of the theories from past years to focus on more recent and accurate information.

Possible Past Theories (NOT the Best Candidates)

COMET (a "moving" star)

One theory is that the "new star" visible in the night sky could have been a comet. Most of us know what a comet is today but in ancient times they most often were perceived as omens of great events (both good and bad) that were soon to occur. The Chinese and other cultures even associated comets with the "sweeping away of the old order of things". The "wise men" in the biblical narrative would have originally seen the 'Star of Bethlehem' in the east and by the time that they had set out for Bethlehem, after visiting King Herod, they could have also seen it in front of them as they then headed south. A comet could have been viewed travelling from east to south across the sky for the duration of the 2-4 month journey that the "wise men" may have performed in their quest. However, there is not any record of such an object during this time frame either. The famous Halley’s Comet for example, did make an appearance until around 12 BC, which is well outside the probable timeframe for the birth of Jesus.

METEOR (a "falling" star)

A meteor is a small fragment of material or even celestial dust which enters Earth's atmosphere at great speed and glows brightly as its outer layers vaporize. While often it is a physically small thing, a "shooting star" can be beautiful viewed from Earth and could be a dramatic means of making an announcement in the heavens. Although somewhat similar to the appearance of a comet, even the much larger variety of meteor would be less likely as a possible candidate due to their rapid speed and very short-lived duration as they burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. Most obvious is the fact that "shooting stars" do not rise in the east like other stars, because as their nickname implies, they "shoot" across the sky. Therefore the 'Star of Bethlehem' was most likely not a meteor.

NOVA (a "new" star)

Another theory (and a good one), is that the 'Star of Bethlehem' was proposed to have possibly been a 'nova', or a "new star" (short for the Latin term "nova stella"), which in science is caused by the gravity of a 'white dwarf' stellar body, gathering enough material onto its surface (usually from a nearby companion star in a binary system) to raise the surface pressure high enough for a large thermonuclear explosion. For much larger stellar objects (and their resulting explosion), we have what astronomers term as a 'supernova'. A white dwarf's increase in brightness during such an explosion may be at a factor of 10,000 to over one million. This increase to peak brightness is very rapid and visible to the naked eye without the aid of a telescope or magnifying lens. This type of event can be seen for a couple of days, while the fading away to invisibility, usually occurs over the period of a few months.

Chinese astronomers recorded a new star in the constellation of Capricorn between March and April of 5 BC, which was visible for over 70 days. This "new star" observed by the Chinese would have appeared in the east several hours before sunrise (as in Matthew 2:2 "...For we have seen His star in the East..."). However, in Matthew (2:9) we also read that the "star" was also visible in the south when the "wise men" headed toward Bethlehem, after their visit with King Herod in Jerusalem. A 'nova' occurrence would not have moved that much in the celestial horizon. The constellation of Capricorn would have also been well away from the galactic plane (by 30 to 40 degrees), where most stars in our galaxy (the 'Milky Way') are found. A nova would be a very rare event otherwise and there is no other documentation of such an occurrence happening in this frame of time for that era.

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BEST THEORY

CONJUNCTION of CELESTIAL BODIES (alignment of planets with a star)

This is the last and most probable explanation for the 'Star of Bethlehem'. An observation of the "celestial bodies" will show that the stars and planets do follow a path and specific trajectory across the night sky. This is how navigators typically find their location or plot a course by identifying and using the same. Stars follow a more uniform movement as they are permanently fixed with the constellations and star clusters that they are associated with. Planets however (since they are within our own solar system), do follow a more unique and independent, but likewise predictable course across the heavens. As a result, planets may sometimes "cross paths" with other planets or stars as they visually appear to us in the sky.

Each planet revolves around the sun at a different rate of speed. The inner planets orbit faster than the ones farther away. The result as seen from the Earth, is that the planets frequently overtake and pass one another. The alignment that occurs in such situations is referred to as a "conjunction" of these celestial bodies. When two planets are in conjunction, they look like they're close together, when in reality they are millions of miles apart. However, when two or more of these elements line up in conjunction, a visible effect may be produced more akin to what we have described for a smaller 'nova' star.

In addition to this on rare occasions, sometimes one planet will first appear to pass another in its motion across the night sky, and then it will reverse or "loop" in its normal path. This is a combination of the planet's position at different times of the year in relation to the rotation of our planet. The effect is known in astronomy as "retrograde motion". In fact, on even rarer occasions of these phenomena, the planet itself actually appears to be stationary at each end of the loop, sometimes for as long as a week. It is precisely a combination of these rare occasions as the ancient Babylonians would have witnessed the event, that is a perfect candidate for what may have been seen as the 'Star of Bethlehem' in the sky.

In Bulmer-Thomas' theory, there is evidence of a triple conjunction in 7 BC and another near-conjunction of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in 6 BC. These types of events would have alerted the "wise men" to look for further "signs in the sky". If the "wise men" then followed Jupiter at the time it emerged from behind the sun in May of 5 BC, they would have also seen Jupiter pass through a stationary point four months later (about the length of their journey). If we compare this with Michael Molnar's theory for the 'Star of Bethlehem', which also documents that in 6 BC, there was a retrograde motion of Jupiter in the constellation of Aries along with a conjunction of the moon, as another possibility.

In Craig Chester's, 'The Star of Bethlehem' (from IMPRIMIS: the monthly journal of Hillsdale College; Hillsdale, Michigan; 1993), we also find other similar recorded conjunctions and retrograde motions:

  • August of 3 BC - Jupiter and Venus
  • September of 3 BC - Jupiter and the star Regulus (retrograde)
  • February of 2 BC - Jupiter and the star Regulus (retrograde)
  • May of 2 BC - Jupiter and the star Regulus (retrograde)
  • June of 2 BC - Jupiter, Venus and the star Regulus

So which of these candidates is more likely the best choice?

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The "Star of Kings" and a "Royal Conjunction"

Babylonian astronomers had a keen interest in the celestial bodies and would have paid very close attention to the retrograde motion of the planets in the night sky. If we also look at how these celestial bodies were perceived by the culture of the ancient Babylonians and what they represented, then this can likewise help us to unravel the mystery.

The "wise men" could have very easily witnessed a series of events which then finally led them to follow the "signs" and travel west towards Judaea. We have listed a couple of triple conjunctions as early as 7 and 6 BC. There were also a total of nine major conjunctions in the period of time from 3 BC to 2 BC. It is possible that ALL of these conjunctions that we have described so far, actually lent themselves to one final event that we can consider for the actual 'Star of Bethlehem'. The "wise men" astrologers would have been observing these celestial events over a period of time and would have been even more watchful for a significant change or "climax" to the pattern of celestial events being displayed by the heavens.

If we look at the night sky during the period of 3-2 BC, we can actually find a very likely candidate for the true 'Star of Bethlehem'... in a "Royal Conjunction". On August the 12th of 3 BC, there occurred a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter that would have had particular significance to the astrologers. This would be especially evident if they had knowledge of the prophecies pertaining to the birth of the Hebrew Messiah. On that morning, a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter took place in the constellation of Leo, near the star Regulus.

From the multi-media presentation listed in the references below:
From the multi-media presentation listed in the references below: | Source
  • The planet JUPITER is also known as the "King Planet" (i.e. "king of the gods" in the Roman pantheon of deities).
  • VENUS (i.e. Roman goddess of love, beauty, prosperity and military victory) was named for 'Ishtar', the chief Babylonian goddess and associated with fertility.
  • LEO is known as the sign for the tribe of Judah (i.e. Christ = the "Lion of the tribe of Judah", as referred to in the book of Revelation 5:5).

  • The star REGULUS (i.e. "regal" or "royal" and Latin for 'prince' or 'little king') is one of the brightest stars from the constellation of LEO and one of the brightest stars in the night sky. It was also named 'Sharru' by the Babylonians, likewise translated as "the king".

"For I will be like a lion to Ephraim [1st King of Judah], and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue." (Hosea 5:14 NKJ)

From their study of astronomy, the "wise men" or magi, could have been alerted from earlier years of observation, that a pending series of conjunctions was to come around the years 3-2 BC. In August of 3BC, they would have been able to see the first conjunction with Jupiter-Venus, becoming visible above the eastern horizon as a morning star. During the next month, they would have also witnessed its movement towards Regulus in the constellation of Leo.

This would have been even more interesting to these ancient astrologers, as when on the 14th of September in 3 BC, Jupiter came into retrograde conjunction with the star Regulus. It moved slightly past the star, then would have appeared to completely stop and then move backward again over the course of the next several months, until it finally passed Regulus a second time (in reverse) on February 17th of 2 BC. This would have proven to be a very unusual occurrence to the magi.

Jupiter then went back to its original path and passed Regulus a third time on the 8th of May in 2 BC. Finally, on June the 17th of 2 BC, Jupiter and Venus again came into conjunction near Regulus, so close that they would have appeared as one shining light, until they set in the west toward Jerusalem as it would have been seen from Babylon.

In astronomy this would be considered a very unique occurrence. Astrologically this would also have been perceived as an important "Royal Conjunction" and would have heralded a very significant event to the ancient magi or "wise men" with the correlation of all these elements. Could this be the origin for the true 'Star of Bethlehem'? Both the facts recorded by the science of astronomy and the understanding displayed in astrological terms, seem to be very supportive of this particular series of events as being the "star" that the magi observed.

Victor Paul Wierwille in his book, 'In Jesus Christ our Promised Seed', writes that: "As the Magi approached Bethlehem, Jupiter finally 'stood over' where the child was, the area of Bethlehem. The time period in which the Magi traveled to Bethlehem could only have been between December 4, 2BC, when Jupiter could be seen in this position over Bethlehem, and before January 9, 1BC, when the events surrounding the death of Herod began."

Also, if we go by the above data along with the Hebrew information pertaining to the projected birthdate of John the Baptist and Jesus (*See our article with information about the "Birth of Christ in September"), the rare and unique retrograde conjunction on September the 14th, 3 BC, could have been the moment that the Messiah Jesus was actually born, as the "heavens being shaken" in announcing the event. Likewise, the triple conjunction of June 17th in 2 BC, may have been the final "star" that the "wise men" saw as they made their long journey from "the east" towards Jerusalem.

Additionally, if we go by the other historical information relating to the death of King Herod the Great, which occurred after the birth of Jesus at the time of a lunar eclipse (See our article "The STAR of BETHLEHEM in Bible Prophecy"), there was a significant total lunar eclipse in 1 BC which fits perfectly with this same scenario.

Let the evidence speak for itself in answer to this long questioned mystery surrounding the 'Star of Bethlehem' and birth of Jesus the Messiah.

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Amazing Astrological "SIGNS in the HEAVENS"

"The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples see His glory". (Psalm 97:6 NKJ)

"For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie..." (Habakkuk 2:3 NKJ)

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SEE our other article on this topic: The STAR of BETHLEHEM in Bible Prophecy for more biblical information on this miraculous event.

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THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF ALL THE PROPHETIC WRITINGS IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

The words of prophecy are really a harbinger of hope to those who are searching for God today. It is through our belief that Christ died for our sins (John 3:16) and faith in His second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18), that we are all "saved" and will enter into the coming Kingdom of Heaven along with Him.

The "STAR of BETHLEHEM" IS the Messiah Jesus, who came into the world as God's plan of salvation for us all. Christ was born as a human child, He lived and performed His ministry as a prophet and man, He was crucified and shed His divine blood as the "Lamb of God" for the remission of our sins, He was resurrected in full glory to pave the way for our entrance into the Heavenly Kingdom, He ascended into Heaven to rejoin our Lord Father, and HE WILL return again in the very near future, to establish His Kingdom here on Earth and live with us as "Emmanuel", the "Lion of the tribe of Judah" and King of Kings for all eternity.

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COMMENTS - Tell Us What YOU Think (^VOTE Above^)Unfollow (1) 17 comments

oscarwms profile image

oscarwms 4 years ago from PA

It is good to hear from some one who know about and share the same beliefs. Keep the Wprd coming. God Bless, and a happy new year to ya.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 4 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Brother Ted: We can assume from this holy scripture, that Mary Conceived in the sixth Hebrew Calendar month, and assuming that she carried a full nine months to term, then she should deliver sometime in the third month of the following year according to the Hebrew calendar of those times.

LUKE:1:26-27; "And in the "Sixth month", the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David and the virgin was named Mary."

I am not a Historian of any sort but since Ceasar declared the very first "Census" ever taken to be taken during the time of Mary's conception and birth, one might be able to more accurately pinpoint the year and period and date possibly.

Don't know if I complicated things or not with my comment, but certain perameters were scripturally set so why not use them to be as accurate as possible.


christ4ever profile image

christ4ever 4 years ago from a life in sin saved by the Lord's grace - we are blessed with the ministry in Florida & Georgia Author

Hello brother Oscar and thank you for the uplifting comments. May you also have a blessed New Year in celebration of our Lord!... Rev.Ted


oscarwms profile image

oscarwms 4 years ago from PA

Thank you Rev. Ted I am also a minister of the Gospel.

It has always amazed me how so much time and research people do on this topic of the star. It seems to me the more education one has the more on relies on that education to find out and explore the deep thingss of God. trying to set a date and how the star did what it did is to my mind futile. Gods ways are past finding out. We need to accept God's word by faith. Will putting a date and plotting how it happened from mans point of view inrease your faith in God? Is the question.


christ4ever profile image

christ4ever 4 years ago from a life in sin saved by the Lord's grace - we are blessed with the ministry in Florida & Georgia Author

Hail brother Dave and thank you for the visit (Happy New Year as well). Most everything you have listed is absolutely correct in scripture. In the last part with a "Summer" birthdate for John the Baptist and then a "Winter" birth for Christ is one of the traditional "theories" about the Lord's actual birthdate. There is also another more recent theory that places the birthdate of Jesus in the "Spring".

Just briefly written in the article "...about CHRIST-MASS" (http://christ4ever.hubpages.com/hub/Retrospect-of- - soon to be its own article, (i.e. "CHRISTMAS in the FALL") and in "Judah's Daughter" other account (The Bible Reveals when Jesus was Born! - http://judahsdaughter.hubpages.com/h there is very good information to support the other "theory" I've referenced.

Basically, if we take what you have listed and also include the "Old Testament" (and Hebrew texts) documentation pertaining to the rabbinic practices of the Jewish priests, surrounding worship at the Temple in Jerusalem and its priestly cycles, there is compelling evidence that shows a possible birthdate for John the Baptist around the time of the Passover Feast (not the Messiah Jesus), therefore moving the birthdate for Christ into the Fall season instead (six months later), which also prophetically corresponds with the Hebrew Fall festivals.

Likewise in reference to the Roman census, there is also info (through the historian Josephus) that shows this could have occurred in the Fall, during those same festivals as well.

Based on that information, it seems that this makes a "better fit" along with the other documentation in scripture: placing Christ's "annuciation" and immaculate conception ("birth in the womb") as occurring in December, John the Baptist's birth at Passover as the "new Elijah" to herald the coming Messiah, and then Christ's physical birth into the world in the Fall (September).

Either way (all theological speculation aside), it's all about the celebration in the birth of Jesus as the "Messiah". Although the study of this information is quite interesting, it is not as important as exactly WHEN He came on a calendar date, but the fact that HE DID COME, He is RISEN and alive!, and will COME AGAIN as the Lord promised to us all. Therein is the "blessed hope" of Christ Jesus -AMEN (of course you already knew that) Be blessed my friend!... Rev.ted


christ4ever profile image

christ4ever 4 years ago from a life in sin saved by the Lord's grace - we are blessed with the ministry in Florida & Georgia Author

AMEN brother Oscar! ...and likewise as just mentioned to Dave, although the theological research is interesting, it is by faith alone that WE are SAVED... Praise the Lord! I find it also interesting that as modern science increases its knowledge, more information is discovered to substantiate what the rest of us already hold as truths by our faith.

It does tell us in the scripture that in these "latter days" - "knowledge will be increased" (Daniel 12:4). So thus these new revelations in the historical aspects, may hold as proof positive for those who would otherwise not believe, just by faith in itself. Let's get as many people into the Lord's glorious Kingdom as possible, through whatever truthful and legitimate methods become available to us today. Be blessed always in His peace my friends!


christ4ever profile image

christ4ever 4 years ago from a life in sin saved by the Lord's grace - we are blessed with the ministry in Florida & Georgia Author

P.S. - JUST A THOUGHT - Let's all celebrate "Christmas", the arrival of Jesus as the Messiah, the glorified living "Star of Bethlehem" and resurrected Lord... ALL YEAR LONG as a resolution for this New Year (2012)! :)


Apostle Jack profile image

Apostle Jack 4 years ago from Atlanta Ga

GREAT WORK,YOU DID IT WELL.


christ4ever profile image

christ4ever 4 years ago from a life in sin saved by the Lord's grace - we are blessed with the ministry in Florida & Georgia Author

Thanks for the visit and support Apostle Jack - It's not by me, but through His grace that I can do anything. May the Lord's hand continue to be with you throughout this coming year! In His peace... Rev.Ted


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I have heard the myths you mentioned in your hub before and I agree with your account of the star as truth. I love the "Royal" significance of the star of Jesus. Thanks for writing this hub. God Bless!


christ4ever profile image

christ4ever 4 years ago from a life in sin saved by the Lord's grace - we are blessed with the ministry in Florida & Georgia Author

@teaches12345 - Hi and thanks for visiting. The Lord never ceases to amaze me, even with the more I learn about Him. Though the "wise men" were 'Magi', who gained most of their insights through a combination of Babylonian mythology, astrology and Hebrew prophecy, they still knew to seek out the "King of Kings"! -AMEN

It just goes to reinforce what the WORD of God tells us:

"Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you." (Psalm 119:91 NIV)

What amazing revelations are revealed through the Lord, let the Heavens declare His glory! Be blessed always... Rev.Ted


christ4ever profile image

christ4ever 4 years ago from a life in sin saved by the Lord's grace - we are blessed with the ministry in Florida & Georgia Author

@ Dave Mathews - Hi again Dave... (When given a problem I always try to find the solution) I finally figured out your meaning and understanding for the last clue you've cited. Let me help to clarify the misconception. We find, as you have mentioned:

"26 Now IN THE SIXTH MONTH the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary." (Luke 1:26-27 NKJ)

Taken "as is" with just this one verse, it would surely "seem" that the Angel Gabriel visited Mary in June (the 6th month), thus implying a (March) "spring" birth (9 months later). When this verse is taken out of context, it can easily be misunderstood. This is quite common and often happens when quoting pieces of scripture. As you said, "the WORD cannot lie", but fortunately it does confirm itself and is self-revealing. Here is the answer to your question... This DOES NOT imply the 6th month of the year, but "6th months LATER" in the timeframe (continuing the same story) after Elizabeth had conceived. The Verse in Luke (26) is referring to the earlier part of the story, when the Angel had visited Zacharias (Luke 1:5-13) to announce Elizabeth's pregnancy, thus 6 month's afterwards he visits Mary. This is also confirmed for us in (Luke 1:36). You have to take it in the context of the entire Chapter or this can easily get mixed up. Also SEE the theological commentary: http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Luk&c=1 (Click on "L", to Left of Luke 1:26) for reference notes.

Also a great audio lesson on Luke's Chapter 1 is at: http://www.blueletterbible.org/audio_video/comm_to

Again, I hope this helps everyone understand this verse and the Chapter in Luke's gospel better. Be blessed always my friend... Rev.Ted


christ4ever profile image

christ4ever 4 years ago from a life in sin saved by the Lord's grace - we are blessed with the ministry in Florida & Georgia Author

Ooops... forgot to ADD (Luke 1:24-26 NKJ):

24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and SHE HID HERSELF FIVE MONTHS, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Christ’s Birth Announced to Mary

26 NOW IN THE SIXTH MONTH the angel Gabriel was sent by God ...

*Refering to "after the 5th month" from the previous verse - therefore, Elizabeth's 6th month of pregnancy. The paragraph break when viewing the Chapter in the (NKJV) helps add to the confusion as well. The (KJV) does not write it that way.

In His peace... TCR


Tina Truelove 4 years ago

Wow! Great Hub and great information. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading more from you!


christ4ever profile image

christ4ever 4 years ago from a life in sin saved by the Lord's grace - we are blessed with the ministry in Florida & Georgia Author

Hi Tina and thank you for the visit and comments. The Lord gets all the glory and praise! Glad you have enjoyed the material and you are welcome to delve into more of the other articles as well - With blessings and in His peace... Rev.Ted


jon 3 years ago

very thoughtful and complete analysis. Thank you much.


alex 2 years ago

I don't think omens of comets were good but it was done well

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