I found an interesting article about the Star of Bethlehem – that symbol in the heavens that led the Wise Men to the new King. This same star has been the subject of research projects of experts on events in the skies. One such expert is Dr. Grant J. Mathews, a professor of theoretical astrophysics and cosmology at the University of Notre Dame and the director of the school’s Center for Astrophysics. He is one of many experts who have “investigated `unusual events in the sky’ near the time of Christ’s birth.
The Blaze published some statements by Dr. Mathews that are very interesting to me and probably to anyone who is interested in the birth of Jesus Christ. Dr. Mathews thinks it is “quite likely” the Magi followed a star to find the location of Jesus. Even though the Bible refers to it as a “star”, Dr. Mathews does not believe it was a star.
“It’s probably not a `star’ somehow hovering over a manager and pointing a beam of light as we traditionally view it. Any new star or comet in the sky was usually taken as a harbinger of disaster at that time,” he said, noting in past interviews and appearances that the Magi wouldn’t have followed a star due to perceived negative events to come. “It was most likely an unusual planetary alignment.”
Dr. Mathews apparently believes that there are three different planetary alignments that could have created the “star” that the Wise Men followed. He said that he and other researchers believe that one of the alignments is more “plausible.”
“In my opinion the most [probable] was the occurrence of the Sun, Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn in Aries, with Venue in the next-door constellation Pisces along with Mercury and Mars on the other side in the next constellation Taurus.”
You can read more of Dr. Mathews comments at this site. I found his idea very interesting. If true, the event would certainly testify of the great powers of Heavenly Father. Only a God could bring the Sun, the Moon and four planets into alignment at any given time! It was the birth of His Son, His Only Begotten Son! The birth of a child is always a big deal, but this was the birth of the Savior of the world. It is appropriate that Heavenly Father should tell the world!
It does not matter much to me whether it was a special star or a planetary alignment. The important thing to me is that there was a sign, and Wise Men followed it, saw the new King, and left their witness. In Matthew 2:9 we read: “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.”
President Thomas S. Monson stated, “May we give as the Savior gave. To give of oneself is a holy gift. We give as a remembrance of all the Savior has given. May we also give gifts that have eternal value, along with our gifts that eventually break or are forgotten. How much better the world would be if we all gave gifts of understanding and compassion, of service and friendship, of kindness and gentleness. As the Christmas season envelops us with all its glory, may we, as did the Wise Men, seek a bright, particular star to guide us in our celebration of the Savior’s birth. May we all make the journey to Bethlehem in spirit, taking with us a tender, caring heart as our gift to the Savior” (A Future As Bright As Your Faith, , p. 389).