The Star of Bethlehem appeared in the sky just before Jesus was born and it was seen by a group of wise men. It’s an important part of the Christmas story and you can make your own version of the star to adorn your tree or nativity set this year!
The Christmas star appears in the Bible in Matthew 2:1-2 and is one of the main reasons people believe in the birth of Christ. According to the biblical story, a bright star appeared in the eastern sky and prompted a group of “wise men from the east” to travel to Jerusalem to seek out the new King of the Jews.
Whether it was an actual star, a different celestial body or just an unexplainable one-time miracle, there are many questions still swirling around this ancient story. Today, scientists and historians are looking for answers to these questions.
Did the Star of Bethlehem really exist?
Astronomy has been able to find evidence of a few potential sources for the star, but it isn’t clear what the actual source was. Some astronomers have suggested that the star may have been a fireball streaking across the sky or a comet. While such stars are rare and sporadic, they can be quite bright in the night sky, which would make them a good candidate to be seen by the magi.
Another possible explanation is that the star was a conjunction of two planets. A group of astrologers, including Johannes Kepler, began investigating this theory in the early 1600s.
If you’d like to learn more about the Star of Bethlehem and astrologers who have studied it, I highly recommend reading The Star of Bethlehem Explained: How a Pair of Planets Made a Conjunction at the Birth of Jesus by Kevin Larson, published in 2010. It is a fascinating look at what happened when Christ was born, and how astronomy can help us understand the biblical story!
There are several other possible sources for the star, but Kepler’s work was able to show that Jupiter and Saturn were the ones who were actually visible during this time. He also discovered that they were close to a planetary conjunction, which would be impossible to achieve with only two planets present in the sky.
The best thing about this theory is that it’s easy to test your own eyes to see if this is true: Simply go outside after sunset and look for Venus. If you do, then that’s what the Magi saw and it may very well have been the real star of Bethlehem!
Once you’ve spotted Venus, you can use that information to track the movement of Jupiter and Saturn to see if they were also there at the same time. This would prove that the star was not just a coincidence, but rather a very real and plausible event.
You can even teach your children to do this by helping them create their own Christmas star of Bethlehem ornaments. This is a fun and inexpensive way to teach your kids the Christmas story and celebrate Christ’s birth!