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Experts suggest 'The Star of Bethlehem' was a real astronomical event

Experts suggest 'The Star of Bethlehem' was a real astronomical event

The 'Star of Bethlehem' is said to have alerted people to Jesus' birth

There have long been questions over which parts of the Bible are factually correct or not - the Star of Bethlehem included.

The Star (also known as the Christmas Star) is only mentioned in four Gospels, including the Book of Matthew, and is said to have alerted the three wise men to Jesus' birth - sparking their journey to Bethlehem to give the newborn their gifts.

Thought to have occurred around the year 85 CE, astronomers have since weighed in on the idea that the Star could have been a genuine astronomical event.

The Gospel was originally penned in Greek, and 'αστερα' was translated as 'astra' meaning star - but this can also refer to other celestial objects like a planet or comet.

Speaking of IFLScience on the matter, Dr Greg Brown, astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London, said: "An unusual event like a supernova would certainly be a possible candidate with one having occurred in the year 4 BCE.

"Alternatively, an event with a strong astrological association, like a comet or conjunction of a planet or the Moon with a star (especially Regulus, the little king) would also potentially have been noted as an event that may herald the birth of an important person."

The Star of Bethlehem dates back thousands of years.
Max Dannenbaum/Getty

One supernova that could have been around the same time as the Christmas Star was RCW103, which appeared to have exploded around 2,000 years ago.

Meanwhile, noting Dr Brown's comments on it potentially being a conjunction - these happen when two or more celestial bodies appear to meet in the night sky from our location on Earth.

According to, if there three wise men were to have followed a bright light of a conjunction, they may have been led in a specific direction.

However, if this location did lead them to the birthplace of Jesus, it may have simply been a coincidence...

Some have suggested the Christmas star was a comet.
Anton Petrus/Getty

There have also been questions raised over the years if the Star of Bethlehem was a comet, but there's a key issue when this theory when it comes to giving a point of direction of the three wise men.

Dr Brown explained: "It suffers from the same problem as every other object in space does: The constant spin of the Earth means that any object that starts in one part of the sky will inevitably move across it over the course of a few hours."

He added that 'if you try and walk towards an object in the night sky you will be constantly changing direction over the course of the day and it won’t point at any specific place'.

It's unlikely we'll ever really know what happened that day, but I'm sure that won't stop people from sharing their theories.

Featured Image Credit: RyanJLane/Liliboas/Getty Images

Topics: News, Space, Christmas, Science