Perhaps the most significant celestial event in history —the Star of Bethlehem—is recurring in our lifetime—just in time for Christmas 2020!
“On December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will be so closely aligned that they will appear as a ‘double planet,'” announced Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan. The double planet will be visible December 16 – 25. The last time such a close conjunction was visible from earth was in 1226, almost 800 years ago.
“Call 2020’s conjunction a unique, holiday gift to the world,” says the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Interestingly, the event is dubbed the “Christmas Star” or the “Star of Bethlehem.” 1
“The skies proclaim the work of His hands,” the psalmist sang. “They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth” (Psalm 19).
Celestial signs and events have always signaled messages about earthly events.
God’s first arrival to the earth in human form was an event to be heralded by a phenomenon never seen before.
Scientists, scholars, even theologians, have called the Star of Bethlehem a myth, a symbol, or a spiritual metaphor. But all that has changed. With new historical knowledge and technology, we can create models of the universe as it existed 2000 years ago. The Star and the famous wise men who followed it are proving to be real!
The ancient magi, or “wise men,” were often court astronomers. Such a dramatic cosmic event drew them to investigate.
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him,” they asked, arriving in Jerusalem (Matthew 2:2).
The wise men most likely saw Jupiter (known as the King planet) and Venus (known as the Mother planet) merge in the eastern sky, creating a super conjunction of planets.
As one of the closest conjunctions ever to occur, it would have astounded the ancient world. What the magi saw from their home in Babylon was a super star shining in the west, directly toward Jerusalem. 2
The magi knew that a momentous event had been announced in the heavens—like the birth of a king.
As they traveled from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, they would have seen the Jupiter-Venus pair moving from the east toward the south (the direction of Bethlehem) due to the earth’s rotation.
Looking directly over Bethlehem, they would have seen Jupiter, appearing to have stopped, stationary in the heavens, mid-bodied to the constellation Virgo the Virgin, shining directly down on Bethlehem. There they found Jesus and gave Him their gifts.
And now, we are about to see a similar celestial event.
Once again, the heavens are speaking.
“There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars,” we are told (Luke 21:25-28).
We’re about to see a great sign!
Like poetry written in the skies, the stars and heavenly bodies proclaim His glory, declare His intentions, cause us to look up and watch for His coming.
1 EcoWatch, “Jupiter and Saturn Will Form ‘Double Planet’ This December for the First Time in 800 Years,” December 4, 2020.
2 The Star That Astonished the World, by Dr. Ernest Martin (1991), and The Star of Bethlehem website are excellent resources for more details.