Featured in the December, 2007 Issue of the Ashburn Baptist News
When we think about the coming of the Savior, we also think about the shepherds in the fields, the song of the angels and the star of Bethlehem. Does that star still shine? Yes, it does and it shines in Chicago!
When the Magi came to Jerusalem they asked, “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” (Matthew 2:2), then we also read that “Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star appeared” (Matthew 2:7).
When they had left Herod we read that “the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the Child was” (Matthew 2:9).
Obviously, this star is very important. The astronomers at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium say, “The description of the Star of Bethlehem in the Bible is the single most famous astronomical account of ancient times”.
What was that star?
The Greek word for star can be used not only for a specific star but also for other heavenly phenomenon. Some suggest that this was a spectacular comet, others say it was a supernova or an exploding star.
It has also been proposed that the sign in the heavens could have been a very bright meteor. Proposing an answer is not easy, since it involves not only a provable date for the birth of Christ, but also a knowledge of what went on in the heavens at that particular time.
The most likely possibility was proposed by astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), one of the most famous scientists of all time and a devout Christian believer. Kepler proposed that the star was the triple conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn taking place in May, October and December in 7 B.C., this conjunction taking place in the constellation of Pisces, which in ancient time was associated with the people of Israel. It is interesting that just a little later Mars joins Jupiter and Saturn to form an extraordinary conjunction.
There is no biblical scholar or astronomer who will say that any one of these heavenly manifestations was “The Star” that we read about in Matthew 2. However, if the star was any one of these you can still see it in Chicago during December at the Adler Planetarium where “The Star of Wonder” show has been shown annually since the planetarium opened in 1930. Apart from a true service of worship, this planetarium show is undoubtedly the most significant Christmas event in the Midwest. It is seen annually by over 15,000 people and a hundred planetariums nation-wide offer a similar Star of Bethlehem show.
The planetarium display allows you to see the night skies skies exactly as they appeared 2,000 years ago and then you may decide for yourself what it was that the wise men saw that caused them to journey to Bethlehem.
Craig Chester, PhD in astronomy, who is president of the Monterey Institute for Research and Astronomy, says, “The Star of Bethlehem is an excellent example of an event that occurs right at the intersection of Christianity and Science, in a world created by God who chose to institute laws but nevertheless continues to carry out His own purposes.”
You can see the “Star of Wonder” show at the Adler Planetarium November 18th through January 3rd, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm daily. Other information is available at 312-922-STAR.
That astronomers are still fascinated by this star and that thousands of people go to a hundred planetariums to see this exhibit year after year is compelling evidence that what the Bible says is important in our time and that the birth of Christ is of utmost significance for every individual.