With the Christmas season here, the topic always comes up in various publications of conjecturing what astronomical or astrological event of the time could align with the historical accounting of the story. I thought it would be fun for those of us that like to conjecture around this to have a thread on it.
There are two accountings that I personally feel have a good plausibility for the accounting, one by Craig Chester from the Monterey Institute for Research in Astronomy. He leans towards it being an astrological event driven by astronomical conjunctions.
The other is by C.J. Humphreys from the University of Cambridge who gives a good argument that it was comet Ho Peng-Yoke 63.
One thing is for sure, that there was an unprecedented amount of astronomical activity happening in the 5 year period from 7 BC to 2 BC, with nova, comets, eclipses, and a host of rare conjunctions. Would be nice if we had so much happening today to observe
7 BC (May) -- First of three conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn (about 1 degree at closest conjunction)
7 BC (Sep) -- Second of three conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn
7 BC (Dec) -- Third of three conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn
6 BC (Feb) -- Jupiter, Mars and Saturn came within 8 degrees of each other (occurs only once every 800 years)
5 BC (Mar) -- Partial eclipse of the Moon visible from the region
5 BC (Mar-Apr) -- Nova visible in Capricorn
5 BC (Mar-Apr) -- Ho Peng-Yoke 63 Comet visible with tail
4 BC (Apr) -- Ho Peng-Yoke 64 Comet visible without tail
4 BC (Mar) -- Partial eclipse of the Moon visible from the region
3 BC (May) -- Saturn and Mercury conjunction (40 arcmin)
3 BC (Jun) -- Saturn and Venus conjunction (7.2 arcmin)
3 BC (Aug) -- Venus and Jupiter conjunction (4.2 arcmin)
3 BC (Sep) -- Jupiter and Regulus the "King" star conjunction (20 arcmin)
2 BC (Feb) -- Jupiter and Regulus the "King" star conjunction (51 arcmin)
2 BC (May) -- Jupiter and Regulus the "King" star conjunction (43 arcmin)
2 BC (Jun) -- Venus and Jupiter conjunction in Leo (some sources show 6 arcsec, other sources show 34 arcsec)
2 BC (Aug) -- Conjunction of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter in Leo
Edited by BillP, 14 December 2017 - 04:09 PM.