Houston Museum of Natural Science

Star of Bethlehem

  

A famous story with a new ending! The Burke Baker Planetarium offers new insight in the search for the holiday star. Who were the wise men? Were there just 3? Did they follow a real star to Jerusalem? Is December 25th Jesus real birthday?

 

Star of Bethlehem answers these questions and more, as audiences search for a celestial object that could have led the wise men to the Christ child. A planet was called a "wandering star." A meteor was a "shooting star." And a comet was a "hairy star" because its tail looked like a beard. These are all candidates in our search.

 

The Burke Baker Planetarium has been telling the story of the Christmas Star for forty years. However, new evidence indicates that we may have been looking in the wrong part of the sky. Recently Dr. Michael Molnar, an astronomer and coin collector, found an ancient Roman coin minted in the first century AD in Antioch, Syria. The coin shows the zodiac pattern of Aries, the Ram, looking at a star over its shoulder. According to Marcus Manilius, a Roman astrologer, Aries was the constellation representing Syria. A very special celestial event in Aries could have been interpreted as a sign of the birth of a king in the regions dominated by Aries, the Ram-especially if the event occurred as Aries was rising in the East. Discover what this event might have been and how it could have guided the wise men to Jerusalem and on to Bethlehem.

 

Using the Planetarium³ digital star-field simulator, we will recreate the night sky at the date and time of Christ's birth to see what the wise men could have seen and to discover if the Star of Bethlehem was a celestial event or a miracle. Travel to the Hills of Judea over 2,000 years ago and discover what the Star of Bethlehem might have been- perhaps a planet, meteor, or comet.

 

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