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Thread: The Christmas Star - Fact or Fiction?

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    The Christmas Star - Fact or Fiction?

    'Tis the season… And every year around this time people notice the brilliant 'star' to the west just after sunset. For astronomers, we know it's the appearance of the planet Venus, but noticing it for the average person brings on questions about the holidays. Was the Christmas Star real? (...)Read the [...]

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    gamma ray searches

    Fraser. As we have just recently been able to find gamma ray-only pulsars, the possibility of finding a nearby pulsar, remnant to part of the morphology of the Local Bubble still exists. Chances are slim but not non-existent.. pete

    see:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1016141421.htm
    Last edited by trinitree88; 2008-Dec-15 at 11:27 AM. Reason: link

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fraser View Post
    'Tis the season… And every year around this time people notice the brilliant 'star' to the west just after sunset.
    I thought Venus was a morning star in the east around this time last year

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    what are the rules on this thread?
    because i heard a very interesting story about a common astronomical event that may have sparked the story.

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    here
    here
    this youtube video part 1
    this youtube video part 2

    very interesting... and entertaining.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trinitree88 View Post
    Fraser. As we have just recently been able to find gamma ray-only pulsars, the possibility of finding a nearby pulsar, remnant to part of the morphology of the Local Bubble still exists. Chances are slim but not non-existent.. pete

    see:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1016141421.htm
    What would make a gamma ray-only pulsar a better candidate for our guiding light? Would it have been visible for a shorter time, perhaps?

    It seems plausible to me that if the Christmas star was an astronomical object that it would have been found in Aries, associated with Israel.

    Using my little Starry Night pkg., I only found one pulsar in Aries, PSR0304+1932 (PSR0301+19 in Epoch 1950) with a 1.4 second period. Any remote chance it dates back only 2000 years? [I could find no info on it.]
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    One thing that should be kept in mind. Although we celebrate Christmas in December, many biblical scholars believe that Christ was born sometime in what we now call July, so any guess as to what event may have caused this "star" should be done with that in mind.

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    There seems to be a number of scenarios that can be drawn from the limited number of verses. Here's one...

    The orginal "star" may have been an astronomical object, perhaps somethng bright in Aries leading the wise men to Jerusalem. The "star" must have only given them a clue to which country to travel to and inquire from there.

    Then, heading south after being directed to Bethlehem (5 miles away), they are guided by a light that takes them directly to "the young child". This would have to be something supernatural, but warranted for such an event, if true. It may have been a small light that began from the location of the original "star", since the account indicates it was the same star, then this equivalent in magnitude local light moved to the house of the child for the obvious purpose of guiding them and, perhaps, only them.

    Since the account refers to a child, many if not most theologians think these wise men came a number of months after the birth. [The three gifts given cause many to assume it was three wise men, but the verses never say how many there were.]

    This story demonstrates how science can step in and affect the plausibility of the story, yet it also shows how science is limited. Since this scenario presents the possibility of an astronomical event specifically in Aries, astronomy can put scrutiny to it and support it or refute it. But, the second star, in this same scenario, would be untouchable by science. Faith will always be a key ingredient to any religion, but science can influence, good or bad, any religion that has exposure to it.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    A recent---either Sky and Telescope or Astronomy--had a pretty good article on this (last or near-to-last article in the magazine), well-reasoned. That author's conclusion (based on some plausible guesses) was a lunar occultation of Jupiter in Aries in April of 6 B.C.

    A miscomputation for the Gregorian calendar accounts for the 6 year discrepancy, and a pagan winter solstice festival that was subsumed into a Christmas holiday gave the December date (and 25th is close enough to the solstice I could imagine it being computed as that).

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdvance View Post
    A recent---either Sky and Telescope or Astronomy--had a pretty good article on this (last or near-to-last article in the magazine), well-reasoned. That author's conclusion (based on some plausible guesses) was a lunar occultation of Jupiter in Aries in April of 6 B.C.
    I've been amazed at the apparent accuracy of Starry Night's software that shows that from Jerusalem, there were two occulations: April 17, 6 BC (about 1pm); and a March 20, 6 BC (about 6 pm). Both events would have required wise men to know they happened as neither would have been observable. There was also an April 18, 6 BC Solar eclipse (partial only, annular from Panama).

    6 BC might be about the earliest date to stir the wise men, as the account has the child out of Bethlehem before Herod's death in 4 BC.

    The year error was due to the guess of the age of Christ. In the gospel of Luke (3:23) is the only known reference, I think, to Christ's age, which says he was about 30 years of age.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    I've been amazed at the apparent accuracy of Starry Night's software that shows that from Jerusalem, there were two occulations: April 17, 6 BC (about 1pm); and a March 20, 6 BC (about 6 pm). Both events would have required wise men to know they happened as neither would have been observable. There was also an April 18, 6 BC Solar eclipse (partial only, annular from Panama).

    6 BC might be about the earliest date to stir the wise men, as the account has the child out of Bethlehem before Herod's death in 4 BC.

    The year error was due to the guess of the age of Christ. In the gospel of Luke (3:23) is the only known reference, I think, to Christ's age, which says he was about 30 years of age.

    I recall two mentionings--in the temple at age 12 wowing the pharisees, and preaching at age 30. I don't have the verses to cite though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tesarra View Post
    While some of these ideas are certainly interesting and compelling, I still have to categorize them as mere speculation.
    Yep. It is unlikely we will ever get much evidence as to what was in the mind of the magi, but if it was a natural celestial event that took place, and we could find one that really stands out, it would be interesting to discover it.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    the cold was/is deadly
    early man feared the winter.



    the sun would progress further and further south as the year progressed.
    as the sun rose further south, it became lower in the sky and the days became shorter,
    the weather turned cold and the crops died.
    the winter was a very fearful time of year.
    in ancient times, man watched the sky, watched the sun set and watched the sun rise,
    i would assume that early mans very survival depended on the seasons.
    so man watched the sky.
    and he absolutely witness this:

    (the links i posted above basically say this: )

    as the year progressed, and the deep winter set in, man, not understanding the cyclical nature of the seasons would have witnessed the sun rise further south every morning, this was scary, because as the further south the sun rose, the shorter the day and the colder it got, the colder it got, the less likely he was going to survive.

    then something happened, at some point, the sun stopped moving south and for one day, the sun rose in the same spot. then a maricle happened.
    the sun rose not a bit south, but started to rise north of the spot it had stopped at.

    early man knew that this ment that the days were going to get longer now.

    it is very interesting that the three stars in orions belt were called the three kings in ancient times.
    The Three Kings is used to refer to the three brightest stars ζ Ori (Alnitak), ε Ori (Alnilam) and δ Ori (Mintaka). They make up the asterism known as Orion's Belt.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Kings

    the three stars in orions belt points down to a star called Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.
    http://www.earthsky.org/skywatching/...E2%80%93sirius

    well as the year progressed, the three stars in Orions belt called the three kings pointed to the spot where the brightest star in the sky Sirius rises. a line drawn through the three kings and the new bright star sirius points to the place where the sun will be "reborn", or to the place where the sun starts its procession north again.

    bringing about the end of winter and the beginning of the warm season again.

    if i was ancient man and witnessed this every year, i would worship it. because it would really really suck if the sun never stopped going south, as that would mean eventually the night would never end.


    Easter is interesting
    http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~gmarts/easter.htm
    Definition of Easter Sunday Date
    Easter Sunday is the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon (PFM) date for the year.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter



    Easter is the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first moon whose 14th day (the ecclesiastic "full moon") is on or after March 21 (the ecclesiastic "vernal equinox").
    and the equinox is the date that the days are finally longer than the nights.

  14. #14
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    In religion class in college, I was told the wise men (not necessarily three, and probably not kings) were likely Zoroastrians (not sure the reasoning there). As such, they did mix astrology with the otherwise Hebrew-ish religion. The magazine article I mentioned seemed in agreement, and mentioned that significance was given to events like occultations, and that it happened in Aries, the "sign of Zion" at the time, would give a strong reason to think something of significance would happen in Judea. That the occultation was with Jupiter implied that a king was born, Jupiter being king of the planets even before we knew it was the biggest (perhaps because it was brightest of the planets not "bound" to the sun? Not counting the moon of course.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tesarra View Post
    Sabianq, the problem with all of the phenomena you described is that all of them were well known millenia prior to whatever celestial event prompted the Magi to travel to Bethlehem. It seems extremely unlikely that any of these would have produced the Biblical story of the Christmas Star, which seems to refer to a singular astronomical event observed by astrologers from some land east of Israel.


    Tes
    then what explains this 5000 year old story?


    Horus was born from of the virgin (or, perhaps, sexless Goddess) Isis Meri, he is the only begotten son of the God Osiris. his father was Jo-Seb of royal decent. his birth was announced by an "angel" to Isis, his mother. and his birth was heralded by the brightest star in the east Sirius, or the morning star. Witnesses to his birth were Shepherds and three solar deities or three kings which followed the star sirius. Herut tried to have Horus murdered but this doesn't happen because God tells Horus' mother "Come, thou goddess Isis, hide thyself with thy child." Horus came of age with a special ritual at age 12, when his eye was restored. incidentally, there is no data on Horus between ages of 12 & 30. at the age of 30 he was baptized In the river Eridanus by Anup the Baptizer who was later beheaded. Horus was taken from the desert of Amenta up a high mountain by his arch-rival Sut and shown temptation. Sut (a.k.a. Set) was a precursor for the Hebrew Satan. Horus resists temptation. Some text indicates that he may have had 12 disciples. He walked on water, cast out demons, healed the sick, restored sight to the blind. He "stilled the sea by his power." Horus raised Osirus, his dead father, from the grave in Anu, an Egyptian city where the rites of the death, burial and resurrection of Horus were enacted annually. he was Transfigured on a mountian, was crucified along with two thieves and buried in a tomb. Horus descended into the underworld, then was resurrected after three days. His resurrection was announced by women.
    statues of the Virgin Isis holding the infant Horus are plentiful. Horus is also called KRST, the anointed one. AKA The good shepherd, the lamb of God, the bread of life, the son of man, the Word, the fisher, the winnower. he is associated with the sign Pisces, the fish.

    image of isis and horus
    http://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au/Medi...ng%20Horus.jpg

    # Gerald Massey, "The Natural Genesis," Black Classic Press, (Reissued 1998). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
    # Tom Harpur, "The Pagan Christ; Recovering the Lost Light," Thomas Allen, (2004), Page 5. Read reviews or order this book.
    # "Egyptian god Horus, The Louvre, Paris," at: http://ancienthistory.about.com/
    # Information taken from essays linked to "Horus - Egyptian God," at: http://ancienthistory.about.com/
    # "The Ritual: The Egyptian Book of the Dead."
    # Joseph McCabe, "The Story of Religious Controversy," Stratford Co, (1929). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
    # Acharya S., "Born of a Virgin on December 25th: Horus, Sun God of Egypt," at: http://www.truthbeknown.com/
    # James George Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion." Oxford University Press, (1998). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
    # James Patrick Holding, "Comparing Osiris, Horus and Jesus," at: http://tektonics.org/
    Last edited by sabianq; 2008-Dec-22 at 03:30 PM.

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    Wink the Christmas Star?

    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    What would make a gamma ray-only pulsar a better candidate for our guiding light? Would it have been visible for a shorter time, perhaps?

    It seems plausible to me that if the Christmas star was an astronomical object that it would have been found in Aries, associated with Israel.

    Using my little Starry Night pkg., I only found one pulsar in Aries, PSR0304+1932 (PSR0301+19 in Epoch 1950) with a 1.4 second period. Any remote chance it dates back only 2000 years? [I could find no info on it.]
    George. Good questions. I think have belabored the points about contributions to the the Local Bubble by a purported nearby supernova in other threads. There is a concensus that the Local Bubble was formed out of a series of supernovae from the nearby Centaurus-Sco association over several million years, by several O,B stars going supernova. Some sources suggest at least six. There's marine sediment evidence of Fe-60 from at least one. A gamma-only pulsar would be evidence of a nearby supernova, within the Bubble, but as this technology is new, it could be a while before they find one within the Bubble..(if it's found at all)..so I'm not crawling out on a limb to say that the Bethlehem Star was a relatively poorly documented super nova, unless multiple lines of evidence point that way, and as of now, they don't.
    The late Bronze age climatological changes evidenced by M.Baillie, Queens College, in tree dendrochronoly might be indicative of a dusting of terra firma by a rapidly moving ejecta cloud in a Bubble previously swept out, such that the kinematics allowed solar system penetration to the inner solar system, as happened 2 million years ago, but to date there are no corroborating layers of supernova dust in them (though, I'm not sure anybody is looking right now). Alpha proton spectroscopy of the layered sediments on Mars in the future, will prove very interesting, and fairly definitive in eliminating or corroborating a recent solar system intrusion, ..or not.
    I spoke with a geoscientist from UNH about analyzing the Colorado-kept Greenland ice cores, years ago, but like everything, budgetary issues constrain the searching.
    If we learn about the evolutionary spin-down time-scales of gamma-only pulsars, and find one locally, within the Bubble, and it seems to be of the correct century, then we might find some evidence of the ancient progenitor. All if's. It's not my primary interest. ...supernovae, weak currents, and neutrino interactions are. So, I'm not going to get too wound up on the legendary Christmas Star. One can search my threads for the old comments, rather than link them here. pete
    Last edited by trinitree88; 2008-Dec-22 at 05:06 PM. Reason: typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdvance View Post
    That the occultation was with Jupiter implied that a king was born, Jupiter being king of the planets even before we knew it was the biggest (perhaps because it was brightest of the planets not "bound" to the sun? Not counting the moon of course.)
    That certainly offers some plausibility. Since there were two occulations in 6 BC as viewed from the middle east, would this add significance? Just how rare are two occulations of Jupiter in a single year?

    Quote Originally Posted by trinitree88
    If we learn about the evolutionary spin-down time-scales of gamma-only pulsars, and find one locally, within the Bubble, and it seems to be of the correct century, then we might find some evidence of the ancient progenitor.
    What about alternative bright lights?

    1) Nova
    2) Flashers (eg. V838 Mon)
    3) Supernova in extra thick OB associations like OMC1 with the wild idea of a temporary window opening through the thick clouds. [Now were in Orion, but maybe David the barehanded hunter t-shirts were in vogue at the time. ]

    The Zoroastrian view is interesting, especially since they seem to place great emphasis upon light representing good.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Thumbs up

    To AstronomyCast: Love the podcast (and believe me I really really do), but I feel that you guys have really drifted into an area way out of your league. You make a lot of assumptions concerning biblical matters which aren't so supported by current historical evidence. Most biblical scholars admit Mathew to be pretty inconsistent historically, and the time frame varies drastically between gospels. And there is more than just coins establishing the time period of Herod.
    The reasoning you guys are using is very sloppy in general with way to much wild speculation arising out of unsubstantiated assumptions deviating from historical evidence. I know it is all with good humor and intentions, but I have come to respect your show so much, I feel just a little let down from this deviation from the standards you held before.
    You have hopped into a religious topic, assumed away all the most controversial aspects, then tried and created a scientific reason and answer ex post facto to what is by all accounts most likely a fictional event either all together or chronologically. And too boot you made what is pretty solid historically (time of Herod, the Roman Empire, Regional History) seem equally substantiated to that of very weak historical evidence (the birth of Christ, the Tale of the Manger, etc.) by the way you presented the evidence in a very piecemeal, incomplete (dare I say cherry picked) manner. This really does discredit to science since it makes it seem that anything can be substantiated by science, which is not true at all as long as your premise is solid.

    I can't wait till your next podcast once this holiday is past.

    Sincerely,

    A Listener You Picked Up
    From Your Skeptic's Guide Interview

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