Written by Fredric L. Rice. Released August 1985. 1:102/890 Original reference material ma

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Written by Fredric L. Rice. Released August 1985. 1:102/890 Original reference material may be found at Griffith Observatory, located at 2800 East Observatorty Road, Los Angeles, California. 90027. Request back issue of Griffith Observer, December 1890, page 9, for Ronald A. Oriti, "The Star of Bethlehem". Direct requests to Dr. Edwin C. Krupp and staff. You may aquire subscriptions to the Griffith Observer through the same address. I* provide* B grea* quantit. o* understandabl* informatio* concernin* astronomy, (And is well worth the price!) -------------------- Perhaps the greatest asked question concerning the brith of Chist is an astrological event described in the New Testament. The Star of Bethlehem has been questioned and researched by many science and astrological groups with widely differing opinions. We might even say we may never know. Here is an opinion held by many as the to explination for the Star of Bethlehem. Though what is contained herein does not in any way mean it's the actual truth, it is what scientist have that fits the facts. -------------------- During the rein of the Romans, a calendar was used based upon the founding of the city of Rome. The Romans defined this year as year 1 A.U.C, or "ab urbe condita" which means "from the founding of the city". The Romans did not have the concept of zeros at the time Rome was founded. (It was to be thought of by the Arabs much later). The calendar was changed more than 500 years after Christ had been killed, and the new calendar was based upon his birth. Dionysius Exiguus changed the calendar in the year 533 A.D. He had researched his records to determine the year of Christs birth and had found a statement made by Clement of Alexandria which said that Christ was born during the 28'th year of the rein of Augustus Caesar. Augustus was proclaimed Emperor in the year of 726 A.U.C. so he added 28 years to it giving the year 754 A.U.C. as the birth year of Christ. This year he called 1 A.D. Dionysius was unawair that Augustus had ruled under the name of Octavian for four years before the title of Augustus was given to him by the Roman Senate. For this reason, we would need to subtract four years from his calendar to find the correct birth year. This would turn out to be 4 B.C., or the year 750 A.U.C. This is fine if you want to rely on historical records, which at that time were hundreds of years old, to be free from error. These records were hand written and could not be photocopied. The New Testament in Matthew says that Christ was born in the days of Herod. Josephus who lived in the first century said that Herod died a few days after an eclipse of the moon visible in Jerico a few days before the Passover. This date can be calculated with a good deal of accuracy to an eclipse on March 13, 4 B.C. Passover was on April 12'th. Herod, then, died somewhere around the first of April, 4 B.C. Remember that Christs parrents were required to pay their taxes in the city of Bethlehem. There are three major tax collections recorded on the walls of temples in Ankara, Turkey. They were 28 B.C., which is too early for our tax collection year, 8 B.C., and 14 A.D, which is too late). This leaves us with the major tax collection year of 8 B.C. This lands us close to the 4 B.C. that agrees with our other information. The month and day can not be infered from any information we can piece together at the moment, yet we do know that early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ on December 25'th because that day was a holiday for the Romans who used to feed the Early Christians to lions, (December 25'th was the Winter Solstice during that time. The daylight hours start to grow longer). If you would like to narrow the month down a little, you might look again at the Bible at Luke which states that the shepherds were guiding their flock by night. It was the practice of the time to guard flocks during the time of year that the lambs were giving birth. So there we have it. We might be looking at the spring of 6 A.D or 7 A.D., (A year or two before the taxes were due). We must then discover an astrological event that occured sometime around these years. Fireballs, comets, eclipes, all of these were known to the peoples of Earth, in the East and in the West. For this reason, we can exclude these type of astrological events. If every time a a comet was seen in the skys, we would have wise men seeking everywhere. We can assume that the "Three Wise Men" were astrologers. Who else would be able to detect an event in the heavens that described the location of the King of the Jews? Astronomers have determine the planetary posistions for the suspect years and the results were quite interesting. Calculations show that on May 27'th, 7 B.C., Jupiter passed within one degree North of Saturn, falling into the same celestial longitude and were therefore in conjunction. This is expected to happen once in about 20 years. This particular conjunction occured in the constellation of Pisces. In those days, Pisces was thought of as the "Hebrew Sign". Saturn was also thought of as the "Hebrew Wanderer". This made the conjunction very important for the Jewish people. The Magi might have read this conjunction as a sign that a great man was to be born to the Jews. Stellar events were not over with yet, though, more important movements in the skys further enforced this belief. After passing Saturn, Jupiter began to slow down, and on the 15'th of July, it stopped. Then it began to back up and passed Saturn for a third time! (Backwards motion as seen from the Earth is known as Retrograde Motion). The second passing had taken place on the 5'th of October. Twice! This was indeed a great man being born. Retrograde mostion ended and Jupiter began to process forward again on November 10'th. Once again Jupiter passed Saturn on December 1'st. Three passes of Saturn in one year, and all in Pisces! Further, in Febuary of 6 B.C., Mars came into the picture and joined the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Three planets in Pisces the Hebrew sign, and three passes of Jupiter, (are these three planets and passes the reason for describing three wise men?), all within the same year! Let's go find this great Jew! You can ignore all of these facts as conjecture and guess work, because that's what they really are. We do know that the three conjunctions did take place, and in Pisces. Whether this is enough to cause astrologers to look for Jeasus is unknown. In the end, it is you, reader, who has to weigh the facts and believe what you will believe. -------------------- Additional information: 1) The first conjunction of 27'th of May, 7 B.C., would have been visible from the East in the morning. 2) The second conjunction of October 5'th would have been visible in the South at midnight. 3) The third conjunction of December 1'st, 6 B.C. would have been visible in the West before sunset. 4) It is said that the Star of Bethlehem moved to stand over the spot where the King of the Jews was to be born. Taking into account the previous three items of additional information, we might say that the "Star" moved from the East to the West. 5) For clairification, the word "Star" may mean any astronomical object, being one item or many. This is much the same as describing fish. You may say, "See the fish?" and mean one or several. "Star" can also be used to describe a conjunction of stars or an Occultation of astronomical objects. 6) There are computer programs being marketed that will describe the attributes of planetary objects for the astrologer. Though I must admit, I wouldn't spend a cent on an astrology package, these would offer accurate posistionings. There are Public domain software packages that do the same thing, yet at a less than highly accurate result. 7) If you would like to write your own rograms for figuring planetary posistions, the library will contain books with the required formula and tables. There are also several books in print that offer the astronomer and astrologer BASIC programs, though again I wouldn't spend a cent on them! -------------------- Additional Reading: 1) If interested, read the Bible. Matthew and Luke offer the best information available to the common questioner of the Star of Bethlehem. Additional interesting mythological information can be found by looking up the fall of the city of Jerico. IHS, Rev Fredric Rice.

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