Dating the birth of jesus and astronomy audacesdating com
They also knew about the Old Testament prophecy that a new king would be born of the family of David.
Most likely, they had been watching the heavens for years, waiting for alignments that would foretell the birth of this king.
The astronomer in me knows that no star can do these things, nor can a comet, or Jupiter, or a supernova, or a conjunction of planets or any other actual bright object in the nighttime sky.
One can claim that Matthew’s words describe a miracle, something beyond the laws of physics.
It refers to a particular moment when a planet stops moving and changes apparent direction from westward to eastward motion.
This occurs when the Earth, which orbits the sun more quickly than Mars or Jupiter or Saturn, catches up with, or laps, the other planet.
But Matthew chose his words carefully and wrote “star in the east” twice, which suggests that these words hold a specific importance for his readers.
Can we find any other explanation, consistent with Matthew’s words, that doesn’t require that the laws of physics be violated and that has something to do with astronomy? Astronomer Michael Molnar points out that “in the east” is a literal translation of the Greek phrase , which was a technical term used in Greek mathematical astrology 2,000 years ago.
, which also had an important meaning in ancient astrology.
The stars in the Big Dipper appear year after year always in the same place.
But the planets, the sun and the moon wander through the fixed stars; in fact, the word “planet” comes from the Greek word for wandering star.
These events present us with our first astronomy puzzle of the first Christmas: How could King Herod’s own advisors have been unaware of a star so bright and obvious that it could have led the wise men to Jerusalem?
Next, in order to reach Bethlehem, the wise men had to travel directly south from Jerusalem; somehow that “star in the east” “went before them, ‘til it came and stood over where the young child was.” Now we have our second first-Christmas astronomy puzzle: how can a star “in the east” guide our wise men to the south?
Together, a rare combination of astrological events (the right planet rising before the sun; the sun being in the right constellation of the zodiac; plus a number of other combinations of planetary positions considered important by astrologers) would have suggested to ancient Greek astrologers a regal horoscope and a royal birth.