Dec 18, 2008 | 25
The star of Bethlehem, which Christian lore maintains led the wise men to the birthplace of Jesus, is one of the most enduring and well-known Christmas legends. Almost as enduring among sky-watchers is the question of whether an ordinary (that is, non-miraculous) astronomical event could have fit the biblical description of the star.
The star appears in the Book of Matthew, which chronicles its appearance as spurring the wise men to seek out King Herod in Jerusalem and then guiding them to Bethlehem. So some astronomers have taken the reign of Herod as a time parameter and scanned the ancient skies for likely candidates using software that reconstructs the locations of celestial objects thousands of years in the past or projects their locations thousands of years in the future.
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