This seems hardly a match made in heaven. You might even say this relationship is star-crossed. But watch the western sky just after sunset on Tuesday, June 30th and you’ll see a rare conjunction between a beautiful bright greenhouse effected hottie named Venus and Jupiter, a gassy giant who only appears dim because he is so far away.
Archaeoastronomers tell us that the last time these planets were so close– in fact a fraction of a degree nearer was June 17, 2 BCE. Some say that Persian astrologers might have seen something in the symbolism of these two nomadic stars coming together as on in Leo, a constellation associated with kings and Jewish people.
Persians in the East who followed this star might have been led West, into the Kingdom of Judea.
Seven month’s later, a lunar eclipse’s blood moon may have coincided with the death of a notoriously bloodthirsty King Herod. But many Christians believe that the star of Bethlehem is a miracle far beyond anything that could be explained by retroactive celestial calculations.
Many non-Christians are equally unimpressed with attempts to connect predictable orbits and historical events with biblical texts.
But if you find yourself under clear skies, look for yourself with binoculars and your naked eyes.
Now try to imagine watching these bright “stars” touching each other in those days nearly 2,000 years before cable televisions and halogen lights.
Enjoy the night, a leap-second will make June 30th, 2015 the longest day since 2012.
The images of the 2015 and 1 BC Venus-Jupiter conjunction were created by the author with the program Stellarium. Note that since zeroth century Romans hadn’t yet pilfered the number zero from their Middle Eastern neighbours, dates around the year zero are approximate.
Also ignore the American and Russian satellites appearing in the simulated image from 1 BCE. We’re quite certain that the Persian astrologers would not have seen these.