New insights into the Star of Bethlehem

Like many astronomers, I’ve always been intrigued by the Star of Bethlehem. It’s the best-known star. People who cannot name a single luminary in the actual night sky readily acknowledge familiarity with the legendary Bethlehem Star and its religious role. No wonder it has inspired vast scientific speculation. For more than a century, various natural explanations have gained and then lost fashion, periodically making mainstream headlines. It has been a staple of yuletide planetarium shows since the 1930s.

For me personally, this celestial topic began in earnest with my very first column in Discover magazine in 1989 . . .

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