The Star of Bethlehem in View This December 21 2020 1st time in 800 years.

 Matthew 2:1-2

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.





DECEMBER will treat people from around the world to the once in a lifetime opportunity to see the “Star of Bethlehem”, also known as the “Christmas Star” or the great conjunction. 

The “Star of Bethlehem” has not been seen in 800 years and really will be a once in a lifetime sighting. On December 21, Saturn and Jupiter will align and come so close together so as to appear as a single star or “double planet”. The timing of the “Christmas star” is perfect for the Christmas season and will be visible around the world.


The fabulous sight will be visible to the naked and anyone with a telescope will be in for a real festive treat. NASA has said sight will be “spectacular”.

According to The Standard, “in 1614, German astronomer Johannes Kepler suggested that a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn may be what was referred to as the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ in the nativity story. Others have suggested the Three Kings could have been following a triple conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn and Venus or a comet to visit baby Jesus.”

In my own research I believe the Magoi were tracking The King Planet Jupiter and The Changer of Ages Saturn in an extremely rare triple conjunction that took place in the constellation  Pisces in September of 7 BC which was also a possible birth date of Jesus Christ.  This would have matched the time frame experts believe Herod would have met the Magoi in late 5 BC to the beginning of 4 BC giving Jesus the age of 2 years plus a few months by the time the Magoi reached Jerusalem.  I have done the additional research on Stellarium and found that in 5 BC there were fantastic signs in the heavens to include: a 70 day Nova recorded by the Chinese in addition to the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation Pisces.  Why is Pisces is so important is because this constellation would have shown the Magoi that it was in Israel this super King would have been born. See information in links below:


Jesus’ Birth Discussed at length by experts





The Star of Bethlehem studied by experts



The Star of Bethlehem 12/25 2 BC


https://youtu.be/exmbuX1NffU



https://www.thethirdheaventraveler.com/2020/12/merry-christmas-december-25th-is-not.html


Here in Stellarium December 21, 2020 We have Jupiter and Saturn in Conjunction with the direct line and view of Venus.   This may be a tremendous sign of our soon redemption.  Looking Up Saints ^  Maranatha!




Here's the actual taken on December 21, 2020 at 18:06 EST 




A note of major importance:  Does the exact birth date of Jesus and the pure scientific proof of the star the Magoi followed really matter?  Simple answer: No! What matters is who Jesus Christ is as he lives today. We only look at Christmas as a time to remember and honor the birth of our Savior.  I'm only embarking on this study of the Christmas Star and the Birth of Jesus as a personal interest issue and not of essential doctrine that we need to believe in.  What is essential doctrine is the Gospel: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV  

15 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;










Video by Barry Setterfield.  Disclaimer:  I fully agree with Barry Setterfield's account that the Christmas story was hijacked by pagan practice of Saturnalia in the 3rd Century during the reign of  Emperor Constantine.  The first and second century Christians would have celebrated Christmas (see also the Hanukkah celebration at the same time). This video by Barry is a very good description of events related to Christmas and the Christmas Star. I  believe that Barry is absolutely solid in his teaching that December 25 would have been the date the Magoi (Persian Wise men) visited the young child Jesus. 

However,  I have some issues with this video and with Barry Setterfield.  I do not agree with Barry's use of multiple Bible translations. I believe in only the King James Version as the authentic and pure translation.  Also I do not agree with Barry's misguided 'changing speed of light' theory and other crackpot science he has used in other studies but not in this one. I have no idea what his religious affiliation may be, but his teaching of the account of  Jesus' birth is according to scripture.  I also believe Barry is in error by discounting by failure to mention the planet Venus as it appears to to birth from Virgo in 3 BC as Venus is clothed in the sun when some accounts agree that in the fall of 3 BC Jesus was born.  

This also includes the King Planet Jupiter and the relation Saturn had with Jupiter and Venus. I believe the Magoi would have certainly been very focused on these events in the heavens and is matched by scripture.   In the video at time 22:40 Barry incorrectly states that the King Planet is in the constellation Virgo which is incorrect.  I verified on Stellarium that at 20:04 Local time Jerusalem on 2 BC Jupiter is located in the Leo Constellation.  The King Planet is located in the Leo constellation next to Regulus speaks volumes in significance to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.. And if the Magoi did enter Jerusalem on December 25, 2 BC, holding to the account that some believe Herod died in 1 BC and not 4 BC then this is what I'm sure the Magoi saw. It's also worth noting that a triple conjunction of Venus,  Jupiter, in the Constellation LEO next to Regulus appears in the summer of  2 BC.   

In my own research I believe we also need to look at some solid evidence that the Magoi were indeed tracking The King Planet Jupiter and The Changer of Ages Saturn in an extremely rare triple conjunction that took place in the constellation  Pisces in September of 7 BC which was also a possible date of the birth of Jesus Christ.  I realize 7 BC is in conflict with the widely held belief of 5 or especially 6 BC based on the supposed Census of Caesar mentioned in Luke 2. However, I'm sure Luke was referring to the Census that Caesar ordered in 7 BC based on studies by Dr. Elder as follows:

Dr. John Elder notes that:

...archeological discoveries prove beyond doubt that regular enrollment of taxpayers was a feature of Ro­man rule and have shown that a census was taken every fourteen years. A large Egyptian papyrus, telling of an enrollment AD 174-175, refers to two previous enroll­ments, one in 160-161 and an­other in 146-147, at intervals of fourteen years. A much earlier papyrus, dated in the reign of Tiber­ius [14-37 AD] reports a man's wife and dependents for enrollment and apparently has a reference to a tax roll compiled AD 20-21. Another shows an en­rollment under Nero AD 62-63; another lists those exempt from the poll tax in the forty-first year of Augustus, who began his reign in 27 BC. Since Augustus records that he set about early in his reign to organize the empire, the first census may have been either 23-22 BC or in 9-8 BC; the latter would be the census to which the Gospel of Luke refers. (Elder, J. 1960. Prophets, Idols, and Diggers. Indianapolis/New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co., pp. 159-60).

The question has been raised whether the Romans would have instituted census and taxation procedures in Palestine while Herod the Great was ruling as king of the Jews. That they would not have hesitated to do so is suggested by comparison with Apamea on the Orontes in Syria. The autonomy of this city-state is shown by the fact that it minted its own coins, yet Quirinius himself had a census taken there. A gravestone found in Venice carries the inscription of a Roman officer named Q. Aemilius Secundus. He states that by order of P. Sulpicius Quirinius, whom he calls legatus Caesaris Syriae, he himself conducted a census of Apamea, a city-state of 117,000 citizens. As for Herod, Josephus reports that in the time when Saturninus and Volumnius were the presidents of Syria, Caesar Augustus demoted him from 'friend' (φ?λος= amicus) to 'subject.' Saturninus was listed above as governor of Syria in 9-6 BC, and Volumnius was evidently associated with him. By comparison with Apamea and specially from the time of Herod's demotion by Augustus, Palestine would scarcely be exempt from any census and taxation procedures the Romans wished to institute. (Finegan, J. 1964. Handbook of Biblical Chronology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, p. 237).




This would have matched the time frame experts believe Herod would have met the Magoi in late 5 BC to the beginning of 4 BC giving Jesus the age of 2 years plus a few months by the time the Magoi reached Jerusalem.  I have done the additional research on Stellarium and found that in 5 BC there were fantastic signs in the heavens to include: a 70 day Nova recorded by the Chinese in addition to the conjuction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation Pisces.  Why is Pisces is so important is because this constellation would have shown the Magoi that it was in Israel this super King would have been born. See information in links below.



The current dating system, which places January 1, 1 A.D., a week after Jesus’ birth, was established in about 525 A.D. by Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Little), a Scythian monk, who hoped to repair a division in the church over the dates of Easter by preparing a new calendar. Rather than use the then-standard Diocletian system (counting the years since the reign of this late-third-century emperor, who had persecuted the Christians), Dionysius decided to count from Jesus’ birth. To do this, he used an earlier calendric system, which dated to many centuries before Jesus’ time—a Roman system based on the establishment of Rome. He fixed Jesus’ birth date as December 25, 753 A.U.C. (Ab Urbe Condita, from the founding of the city of Rome). It isnot known how Dionysius chose that date. One theory is that he based it on the Book of Luke, which states that “Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work” (Luke 3:23) and that this occurred “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius” (Luke 3:1). Tiberius’s reign began around 767 A.U.C., or 14 A.D., so 754 A.U.C. became 1 A.D. Dionysius’s system of counting years gradually caught on: Charlemagne made it nearly universal in the ninth century, and the calendar we use today maintains Dionysius’s calculations, with a few adjustments made by Pope Gregory in 1582. (Why December 25th was accepted as Jesus’ birthday is even more obscure; it may be related to the Roman festival of Saturnalia, which was celebrated on that date. It may also be related to the Jewish tradition of performing circumcisions one week after a birth— in Jesus’ case, on January 1.) But Dionysius had miscalculated. As Matthew’s Gospel tells usoutside sources, such as Josephus, and from the dates of contemporaneous Roman leaders. This means that Jesus must have been born before 4 B.C. Various calculations, based on astronomy, Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great. Herod died in 4 B.C., as is known from y, history and the Bible, have come up with dates between 7 and 4 B.C.—which means that we are already a few years into the second millennium! But that won’t change anyone’s plans, or their calendars.  Quote taken from 
"The first Christmas" Biblical archaeology . org



This brings up another dilemma I encountered.  If Jesus was born in 7 B.C.E. and was crucified in 33 AD/C.E. or even as late as 36 AD/C.E. then that would make him 40 years old or older.   Here's some extremely interesting information I've found that seriously challenges the notion that Jesus was only 30 or 33 years old at the time of his crucifixion.  Start your study by reading John 8:57 KJV and Hebrews 3:3-19 KJV.  I'm still studying how we'd harmonize  Luke 3:23 KJV, John 2:13, 6:4, and 11:55 KJV that Bible scholars deal with in the link I've attached here: 





Jesus’ Birth Discussed at length by experts




The Star of Bethlehem studied by experts




The Star of Bethlehem 12/25 2 BC


https://youtu.be/exmbuX1NffU




The Christmas Star visible December 21, 2020 with notes




The Christmas star quotes from The First Christmas from Biblical Archelogy . ORG

2009 Biblical Archaeology Society

The only remaining candidate is a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 B.C.E.1 Already in 1604 Johannes Kepler associated this event with the birth of Jesus. However, Jupiter and Saturn did not come close enough to each other during this conjunction to be seen as a single exceptionally bright star. Rather, they remained at least one degree apart (about two diameters of the moon), leading one scholar to conclude: “This fact renders it impossible to explain the Star of Bethlehem with reference to that particular conjunction.”2
The First Christmas © 2009 Biblical Archaeology Society 17 It thus seems that from the viewpoint of modern science, the Star of Bethlehem cannot be satisfactorily explained. We will have better luck, however, if we turn to ancient science, which sheds light on how the magi themselves would have understood these celestial phenomena, in particular the conjunction of 7 B.C.E. For although modern scholars might find it “impossible” to identify this conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter with the magi’s star, Babylonian astronomers used the term kakkabu, “star,” to refer to a single star or planet as well as a constellation. Further evidence of how ancient astronomers would have understood this conjunction has been revealed by excavations in Babylon, which have uncovered four clay tablets bearing astronomical computations for the year 7 B.C.E.c This almanac indicates that, from the beginning of the year, Jupiter and Saturn were continuously visible in Pisces for 11 months. In other words, for most of the year the constellation Pisces served as a backdrop for the planets Jupiter and Saturn as they traveled slowly through the night sky. The movements, stationary points, risings and settings of both planets are accurately registered month by month (see the sidebar to this article). They came closest together on three nights in May, October and December. It appears from the almanac that toward the end of the conjunction, Mars also moved into Pisces; it was visible near Jupiter and Saturn in mid-February. That the almanac survives in four copies is remarkable, and, indeed, quite exceptional. The overwhelming majority (85 percent) of the known almanacs are available in one copy only, and only two other almanacs are available in four or more copies.d Unlike modern almanacs, Babylonian almanacs were not drawn up for the general public but for the private use of a handful of experts, and they were guarded as great scholarly secrets. That so many copies exist of this one is all the more surprising when one considers its date: Cuneiform texts become rare in the latter half of the first century B.C.E. (the latest known cuneiform tablet dates from 75 C.E. and there are only four cuneiform tablets altogether from the Christian Era). The great number of copies has an obvious explanation, however: An 11-month conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Pisces is an extremely rare event, occurring only once every 800 years. Because of the slow rotational velocity of both Jupiter (which has a 12-year orbit around the sun) and Saturn (29.5 years), any conjunction of these planets (the so-called “great conjunction”) will only happen every 20 years. The 11-month conjunction of 7 B.C.E., however, was special in that the planets met three times in succession in the same constellation. It can occur only when both planets are in opposition to the sun; that is, the sun is on the opposite side of the Earth from the planets (see the sidebar to this article). Since 7 B.C.E. a triple conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter has been observed only twice, in the years 786 and 1583.For the ancient Babylonian magi, however, the conjunction was not only important astronomically, but astrologically and politically. In the Babylonian system, Jupiter, the largest and brightest planet, was known as the star of Marduk, the supreme god of Babylon. Saturn, the second largest planet, was the star of the king, the earthly representative of the god. The Babylonians called Saturn Kaiwaµnu, “The Steady One.” The constellation Pisces was associated with Ea, the god of wisdom, life and creation. Pisces was also the last sign in the zodiac—that is, the last constellation that the sun passed through each year (see the sidebar to this article). The conjunction of the planets in Pisces accordingly portended two things: the end of the old world order and the birth of a new savior king chosen by God. No Babylonian interpretation of this particular conjunction is extant— surely because of the great rarity of the event—but we know that interpretations of planetary conjunctions were based on an analysis of the astrological significance of the planets and the accompanying circumstances, particularly the zodiacal sign in which the conjunction took place. The fact that Mars, the star of Nergal, the god of war,e joined the conjunction in its final phase signified that the new king was to come from the West, specifically, from Syria-Palestine, for Mars was the star of Amurru or the West (Syria-Palestine) in the Babylonian system. The prediction of such a king would have held wide interest in 7 B.C.E., when a power vacuum of sorts prevailed in the Near East. The Seleucid empire created by the successors of Alexander the Great had collapsed in 64 B.C.E., and its remnants, which included Judea, had been annexed to Rome as a province named Syria. The power of Rome had not yet been consolidated in the area, however. Even after Augustus changed Rome into an autocratic monarchy in 27 B.C.E., his authority was questioned in the East, for the Roman emperor, unlike the Seleucid kings and their predecessors, did not derive his authority from God. For this reason, many people considered Roman rule illegitimate and hoped that a local Near Eastern king appointed by God would drive the Romans out of the country and create a better world. These messianic expectations are recorded by Josephus and reflected in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The conjunction of 7 B.C.E. would have been interpreted as a portent of the birth of precisely this kind of king. The political vistas opened by it would not have escaped the attention of any Babylonian astrologer. When the year 7 B.C.E. began, Jupiter was already visible in the night sky. Saturn appeared soon after, on the third day of the first month, Nisan (at the beginning of April). The planets met for the first time on May 27, rising in the east at about 2 o’clock in the morning, the brighter Jupiter first, and Saturn, considerably dimmer, soon after it. The First Christmas © 2009 Biblical Archaeology Society 19 The second meeting of the planets occurred on the 22nd of Tishri (October 6). Just as Mars was the star of Amurru (the West), Tishri was known as the month of Amurru. This second meeting may have inspired the magi to head West. That they chose to visit Herod’s court is natural, as he was unquestionably one of the most powerful kings of Syria-Palestine. The magi would have seen a brilliant and suggestive sight. Jupiter and Saturn were in opposition to the sun and shining at their brightest, with Jupiter (the star of the supreme god) appearing twice as bright as Sirius, the brightest star. Appearing directly above Saturn (the star of the king), Jupiter thus seemed to embrace and protect Saturn in its light. The conjunction was visible through the whole night, setting in the West. For the magi, the significance resided in the astrological message, not the appearance: Matthew nowhere stresses the brightness of the star. The journey of about 750 miles from Babylon to Jerusalem took about three weeks by donkey or camel. If the magi left for Syria-Palestine in early Tishri (October), they would have arrived there well before November 7, when Jupiter reached a stationary point (its second) and for a moment seemed to come to a stop. This occurs whenever the Earth, traveling at a faster rate in its smaller, inner orbit, catches up with Jupiter (or any outer planet). As the Earth overtakes the planet, Jupiter appears from our vantage point to pause in the sky, then to travel backward (westward) in retrograde motion until Earth has passed by. The planet then pauses a second time and turns back in an easterly direction (see the sidebar to this article). On November 20, Saturn reached its (second) stationary point. Both dates—the 7th for Jupiter and 20th for Saturn—would fit Matthew’s description of a star stopping above Bethlehem. The third conjunction occurred at the time of the full moon, on the 14th of Kislev (December 1), about three weeks before the winter solstice, when the Babylonians held their annual celebration of the victory of their savior god, Nabû, over the forces of darkness. The magi may well have associated the birth of the child they were looking for with this festival, for the Mesopotamian king was commonly regarded as an incarnation of Nabû. Interestingly, the Babylonians proclaimed Nabû’s victory as “good tidings” (bussuraµti) to all the people. Bussurtu, “good tidings,” is the same word as Hebrew/Aramaic besorah, of which the Biblical euangelion (gospel) is a Greek translation. In Luke, the angel uses this very term to announce Jesus’ birth to the shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night: “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news [euangelion = bussurtu] of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11). The First Christmas © 2009 Biblical Archaeology Society 20 How could a star lead the magi to Jerusalem and Bethlehem?f These Babylonian astronomers would have “followed” a star only based on its astrological significance. In 7 B.C.E., they read the message of the “star”—that a messiah-king would be born in Syria-Palestine—and they headed to a leading political center in the region, King Herod’s court. There they were directed to Bethlehem; as they traveled, both the planet of the king (Saturn) and the planet of the supreme god (Jupiter) would have paused in the sky, as planets do when the Earth overtakes them in their orbit. In late December, at the winter solstice, the magi would have rejoiced with good news, or bussuraµti: Their savior king was born—several years before the Christian Era even began! What the Magi Saw Sidebar to: The Magi and the Star The Triple Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn Ancient astronomers believed that the Earth was the center of the universe. They thought that the sun, moon and the five visible planets—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn— circled around the Earth at different distances and speeds. Farthest away was the great celestial sphere in which the stars, and the constellations they formed, were embedded. The constellations on the celestial sphere thus appeared as a backdrop to the sun, moon and planets as they moved across the heavens. The First Christmas © 2009 Biblical Archaeology Society 21 The group of 12 constellations in front of which the sun, moon and planets appear to move are probably the best-known features of the night sky: They are the constellations of the zodiac—Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus and so on. The band along which these constellations appear is called the ecliptic. In the drawing below, for example, the sun is “in” (really, in front of) Virgo. Of course, the ancients could never really see the sun in any particular constellation since the stars aren’t visible in the daytime; but since they were familiar with the order of the zodiac and the sun’s rising and setting throughout the year, they could easily calculate which constellation the sun was “in,” even if they couldn’t see it. It is much easier to see a planet in a constellation at night, as shown in the photo taken on December 16, 2000, which shows a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Taurus (see photo of conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn). Whereas the sun makes a smooth journey across the ecliptic, spending exactly one month in each of the zodiac’s 12 constellations, the planets behave much more strangely. Their motion is erratic—at times changing speed, and even changing direction. In fact the word planet comes from the Greek word planeµteµs, meaning “wanderer” or “nomad.” The outer planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, for example, spend most of the year traveling eastward against the backdrop of stars, but every so often, and almost always at separate times, each planet will appear to make a loop or switchback in its journey. It will slow down, “stop” and then travel back toward the west for a short distance—in what astronomers call retrograde motion—then it will slow down again, stop and resume travel in an easterly direction. Early astronomers came up with ingenious theories to explain the planets’ strange behavior. In about 87 C.E., the Alexandrian astronomer Ptolemy suggested that each planet moved in small circles or “epicycles” as it moved along its greater orbit around the Earth. Like wheels-within-wheels, these epicycles helped explain why sometimes a planet would appear to move relatively quickly across the sky from night to night, while at other times it would slow down and change direction for brief periods. It wasn’t until the 16th century that the much simpler truth of the matter was finally recognized. The Polish astronomer Copernicus realized that the retrograde motion of planets was actually an illusion due to the fact that the sun, not the Earth, was the center of the solar system, and that the Earth was just another planet circling it. To understand Copernicus’s insight, and to grasp why the planets aren’t really traveling backward even if they seem to at times, imagine a racetrack with several lanes, with the sun in the center. Each planet is a car, racing around the sun in the same, counterclockwise direction, and always staying in its own lane—Mercury on the inside track, Venus next to it, then Earth, Mars, Jupiter and finally Saturn. (Later astronomers discovered more planets, of course, but they The First Christmas © 2009 Biblical Archaeology Society 22 aren’t visible without telescopes.) And no racetrack would be complete without the grandstands that surround it, where people sit and watch the race. These are the stars, farther from the sun than any planet, and (for all practical purposes) motionless. This planetary race is fixed: Not only do the cars/planets in the inner lanes always go faster than those in the outer lanes, but every car also has an added advantage over the car immediately to its right: It has less far to go to complete a lap. So in this imaginary racetrack, Mercury always wins, Venus always comes in second, Earth third, and so on. (Poor Saturn!) And since every car travels around this racetrack counterclockwise, passing is always on the left. Now, if you’re driving the third car and watching one of the slower cars on the outer tracks to your right—say car five—as you overtake it, your opponent will seem to slow down and actually move backward relative to the fans sitting farther away in the bleachers. But when you’ve put some distance between you and car five, you will again be able to see clearly that it’s moving forward the same way you are. Its backward movement was just an illusion produced by the relative motion of your two cars and a more distant point of reference. (You can observe this phenomenon on an ordinary highway too: While you’re passing a car next to you, it will briefly seem to move backward relative to the more distant trees even though you know it is actually going forward.) The apparent backward motion of the planets that are farther from the sun than the Earth—Mars, Jupiter and Saturn—against the backdrop of stars is no different. It happens each time the Earth overtakes or “laps” these slower planets as we make our yearly journey around the sun. The Earth overtakes an outer planet when it is in opposition to the sun; that is, the sun, Earth and planet are aligned with the Earth in the middle, as shown in the drawing below. In this drawing, Earth and an outer planet are shown at various stages in their orbits around the sun. The looping line at top shows how the outer planet appears to travel across the sky, starting in the west (at right), when viewed from Earth. As Earth overtakes the planet, the planet appears to loop backward, although of course it’s still moving forward.
Jupiter, with its 12-year orbit, and Saturn with a 29.5-year orbit, always appear to move slowly through the night sky—but as the Earth is overtaking them, they appear to slow down even more. What makes the events of 7 B.C.E. so unusual, astronomically speaking, is that the Earth overtook both Jupiter and Saturn at the same time, when they were in conjunction. It’s very rare for these two planets to come into conjunction at all—it only happens once every 20 years—and it’s even less common for this to happen when they are in opposition and the Earth is passing them, making them both go into apparent retrograde motion at about the same time. This meant that in 7 B.C.E., the two slowest planets lingered for a long time—11 months—together in the same small corner of the sky (in Pisces). While in Pisces, they came into conjunction—passed especially close to each other in the sky—three different times. The First Christmas © 2009 Biblical Archaeology Society 24 The diagram (above) depicts the similar, looping paths these planets took that year starting in the west (at right) and moving, at first, in an easterly direction (to the left). The Babylonian year began in the month of Nisan (our April). Saturn first appeared on about the third of Nisan (April 4 in the drawing), and moved slowly eastward from night to night. Jupiter appeared a few weeks later, on April 24. Jupiter was moving more quickly in its smaller orbit and caught up to Saturn on May 27—the date of the first conjunction. For the next couple months, both planets appeared to travel in the typical easterly direction, but Earth was gaining fast. As the Earth began to overtake Saturn, Saturn appeared to slow its eastward advance, stop and then switch direction on July 6. Jupiter did the same thing when Earth passed by it: On July 16 it appeared to stop and change direction. Now both planets appeared to move from east to west across the sky, with Saturn in the lead once again. On October 6, 7 B.C.E., at 10 p.m., Jupiter caught up with Saturn. This was the second conjunction of the year, made even more striking by the full moon that shone nearby that evening. The planets continued to travel west until November. As the Earth moved farther ahead, the planets appeared to pause for a second time: Jupiter on November 7, Saturn on November 20. They then appeared once again to travel in their usual, easterly direction. Saturn again was in the lead, but Jupiter quickly caught up. On December 1, at 9 p.m., the two planets came into conjunction for the third and final time that year. It would be another 20 years before they would meet again, another 200 years before they met in Pisces and another 800 years before they would meet in a triple conjunction. This article first appeared in Bible Review magazine, December 2001. You can view this article fully illustrated in the BAS Library, along with more than 30 years of articles by the world’s foremost scholars of Biblical archaeology and related fields. Visit www.biblicalarchaeology.org/library for more information.

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