(Investigator 164, 2015 September)


Jupiter and Venus were so close to each other in the northwest night sky on June 30th that a finger-width of my extended arm covered both.

When two planets seem to merge as viewed from Earth, it is called a "conjunction", and the event on the 30th was almost a conjunction.

Venus and Jupiter are each brighter than Sirius the brightest star and their close encounter on a clear night is eye-catching.

Star of Bethlehem

In previous articles I explained the Star of Bethlehem as a Venus-Jupiter conjunction.

The Bible says "the star" not "the planets" went before the "wise men". This is not an issue since the ancients did not distinguish stars and planets as we do today. To them planets were "wandering stars" moving through the background of fixed stars.

A Venus-Jupiter conjunction occurred on August 12, 3 BC in the eastern sky, agreeing with the wise men's words that they saw the star "in the east". Another conjunction occurred ten months later on June 17, 2 BC, this time in the western sky.

For this interpretation to succeed the 2 BC conjunction needs to be dated 33 years before Christ's crucifixion since the New Testament shows Christ died at age 33.

In his book Eclipse (1999) astronomer Duncan Steel writes: "Because Passover is at full moon, and the Crucifixion was on a Friday, only certain dates are feasible, 7 April in 30AD and 3 April in AD33 being the chief candidates…" (p. 21) Steel opts for AD33. This is 33 years after 2 BC (since there was no year "0").

The conjunction hypothesis for the Star of Bethlehem was proposed in 1991 by William Bidelman in the magazine Planetarian, and by astronomer Fred Schaff in Omni.

In September 3 BC — a month after the August conjunction — Jupiter came into conjunction with Regulus the brightest star in the Leo constellation and symbolic of kingship. Another Jupiter-Regulus conjunction occurred in May 2 BC a month prior to the Jupiter-Venus conjunction in June. All these conjunctions and their dates can be confirmed with computer software.

The "wise men" were astrologers and would have regarded these conjunctions as very significant. Perhaps they also knew the Old Testament prediction about a ruler in Israel who comes out of Bethlehem (Micah 5) and Daniel's prophecy of an "anointed prince" (9:24-27).

This still leaves the problem that Herod died in 4 BC and therefore could not have ordered the murder of infants in Bethlehem in 2 BC. Lately, however, more researchers have concluded Herod died nearer 1 BC than 4 BC. William Bidelman (1991) argued this, as did Craig Chester (1993) and Andrew Steinmann (2009).

A guiding star

Details regarding how the "Star" led the astrologers, and how it stopped above "the place" where Jesus was, are given in my articles in Investigator 81/18; 88/18; 119/56; 145/32; 149/4; 154/58; 159/21.

In brief, the astrologers approached Bethlehem from the east after sunset. The Venus–Jupiter conjunction was in front of them in the western sky and moved westwards leading them to Bethlehem.

Venus-Jupiter could appear to stop above a village or even above a specific house if the astrologers parked their camels on the east side of the village wall or the east side of the house. The "star" would then seem stationery for a while above the wall or above the house.

An experience 2002

Another almost-conjunction of Venus and Jupiter prior to the one of June 30th 2015 occurred in May 2002. 

During an evening walk I encountered a woman named Elizabeth who I knew to be a church member and offered to show her the "Star of Bethlehem".

She refused to look upwards into the sky and could not be persuaded to do so.

Many church-goers seem afraid to check things out. They thereby confirm the atheists' jibe that "Faith is belief without evidence." Yet the Bible is crammed with statements that science can confirm or show plausible including the Star of Bethlehem.


Bidelman, W.P. The Bimillenary of Christ’s Birth, Planetarian, September 1991, Volume 20 (3)

Chester, C. The Star of Bethlehem, Imprimis, December 1993, Volume 22 (12)

Schaff, F. Omni, Volume 14, No. 1, October 1991

Steinmann. A. 2009 Novum Testamentum, Volume 51, Number 1 pdf
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