Astronomer puts light on the star of Bethlehem

December 16th, 2007 - 11:48 am ICT by admin  

Washington, December 16 (ANI): A Pennsylvania-based expert has come up with an astrological explanation on the appearance of a star in the East, which, according to the Bible, was followed by the Magi to visit Jesus Christ when he was a baby.

Fred Grosse, a professor of physics and astronomy at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, says that several popular theories may answer as to what the Magi would have seen actually.

Astronomical objects or events which would be of interest to serious stargazers of the time include comets and meteors, nova or supernova, and auroras, Grosse says.

However, the favourite candidate hypothesis for the star of Bethlehem is a planetary conjunction, he says.

Grosse says that a conjunction happens when two celestial objects appear to pass very near to each other from our perspective on Earth. He says that such conjunctions often look like one large object rather than separate ones.

In 6 BCE, Jupiter and Saturn passed each other three times, in May, September, and December a triple conjunction, Grosse says.

Given that it is tough to pin down the actual year of Jesus birth, Grosse says that an event in 6 BCE remains a good candidate to explain what the Magi saw.

He also says that this conjunction would have been a significant event to astrologers from Babylon because it only happens once every 140 years.

A conjecture is that they saw the first passing from their homes, left for Jerusalem, and got there in time for the second or third passing to guide them to Bethlehem, he says.

(Astronomer Johannes) Kepler knew of this conjunction, and since his time astronomers have connected the triple conjunction with the Star of Bethlehem, he adds.

Grosse admits that, though dominant, this is not the only explanation for the star in the east.

Nova and Supernova are new objects which appear in the sky and then dim to oblivion, he says, adding that they can put on the kind of show that first century astrologers would have noticed.

A supernova in 1006, the brightest ever, was as bright as the sun. It was visible to the naked eye for more than two years,” he says.

According to Chinese records, supernova appeared in the sky right around the time when Jesus may have been born, in 4 and 5 BCE.

However, the fact that theres a possible scientific explanation to what the Magi saw, does not mean to Grosse that the event loses its transcendence.

The symbolism is apparent. A small clear light, on a cold dark night, in a sometimes cold and dark world, leads the wise to the message of Jesus. The message tells us to love each passenger who journeys with us on this small, fragile, planet Earth, he says. (ANI)

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