Brendan O’Shaughnessy | December 21, 2018
Sometimes an old story can be refreshed with a new perspective, even one from far out in the galaxy.
That’s what Grant Mathews, director of the Center for Astrophysics at Notre Dame, figured when he decided to use his expertise to see if he could identify the star of Bethlehem that the Bible says announced the birth of Jesus.
“I’m an astrophysicist, so people see things in the sky, and I make models that explain them,” Mathews says. “It’s Christmastime, and here’s this astronomical event that’s been recorded, and I decided to just look at it as a scientific question.”
Mathews began his research with three basic questions:
When did it occur?
Scripture refers to the reign of Herod the King. Roman historian Flavius Josephus recorded Herod’s death as after a lunar eclipse, with his burial before the first day of spring. The Book of Luke says John the Baptist began preaching in the 15th year of Emperor Tiberius. Since John and Jesus were born six months apart and Jesus began teaching around age 30, these references point Mathews to a time frame of 8-4 B.C.
Did anyone else see it?
Chinese astronomers kept careful records of events in the sky going back beyond 1000 B.C. They record Halley’s comet in 12 B.C. and several astronomical phenomena in the right time frame, including comets, novae, supernovae and planetary alignments.
Read more here.