Tuesday, December 09, 2008
In an exercise with more than a little midrift gazing, Australian astronomer Dave Reneke, who is also news editor of Sky and Space magazine, has announced yet another candidate for the “Star of Bethlehem.” Using a computer program to map the night sky as it would have appeared over the Holy Land more than 2,000 years ago and using Matthew's Gospel as a reference, he pinpointed the slightly inconvenient date of June 17 in the year 2 BCC as when:
"Venus and Jupiter became very close ... and they would have appeared to be one bright beacon of light.
"We are not saying this was definitely the Christmas star - but it is the strongest explanation for it of any I have seen so far.
"There's no other explanation that so closely matches the facts we have from the time.
"This could well have been what the three wise men interpreted as a sign. They could easily have mistaken it for one bright star. ...
"Astronomy is such a precise science, we can plot exactly where the planets were, and it certainly seems this is the fabled Christmas star." ...
"This is not an attempt to decry religion. It's really backing it up as it shows there really was a bright object appearing in the East at the right time.
"Often when we mix science with religion in this kind of forum, it can upset people. In this case, I think this could serve to reinforce people's faith."