Re: [asa] Star of Bethlehem presentation?

From: David Clounch <>
Date: Sat Nov 21 2009 - 16:52:54 EST

I agree. What ever made anybody think a bright light in the sky must always
come from a solar mass? Those in 1 BC who were looking for the Christ
child would have said a satellite is a star. They would have said the
lights on a 747 are stars. If a helicopter with a floodlamp flew over them
they would have said it was a star.

Stars which are actual solar masses rise in the east, and set in the west,
every night following the same path across the next few hours. They go east
to west. So, if you have a clock, and sample their position exactly 1/2
hour before dawn, you can say they are west of you. But at sunset they rise
east of you. In the middle of the night they are directly above you
(adjusted for latitude of course).

Contrast this to a satellite in geosynchronous orbit. If it is above North
America it would look to be in the west to someone in Palestine. And it
would stay in that position all night.

I don't think it was a geosynchronous satellite, but I don't think it was a
solar mass either.

If you want someone to go north to south, and you want the beacon to be an
astronomical object, you'd have to put it in the southern hemisphere. So,
after visiting the capitol, which direction did they head toward? The
Mediteranean? Why did they then not end up in Spain?

When they did find Bethlehem there's nothing to say the star didn't descent
vertically and hover 300 feet over the town as they approached the town from
the north. In fact, to be able to have them distinguish a little town from
an area the size of Los Angeles that is exactly what would have been
required. This was most likely not an astronomical event.

So figuring out what the actual observation was, and then drawing an
inference as to proximate cause, requires a complete reset in thinking.
One has to think forensics, not theology. But every holiday season we are
treated with the same dish of crapola. There is no natural explanation for
the event.

I remain "a cynic" ;)

On Sun, Nov 22, 2009 at 3:44 AM, John Walley <> wrote:

> David,
> I'm curuious. What path would a star take? And how do you describe it?
> As far as who made it up, I guess you would have to blame the gospel
> writers. I am not sure they had the distinction back them between stars and
> planets, except for calling the stars that moved "wandering stars". Again
> the astronomical understanding of the day has to taken into acount.
> If you need a visual to help you remember this distinction forverer,
> nothing would be more effective than this priceless clip of the
> multi-talented Lee Marvin finding his senstive side in the old 60's movie
> Paint Your Wagon. :)
> John
> ------------------------------
> *From:* David Clounch <>
> *To:* John Walley <>
> *Cc:* Allan Harvey <>;
> *Sent:* Sat, November 21, 2009 1:48:10 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Star of Bethlehem presentation?
> I have never believed it was a star. Just read the scriptures. It clearly
> doesn't describe the path a star would take. Who made up this star story
> anyway? Sort of sounds like St Nick getting turned into Santa Claus.
> On Sat, Nov 21, 2009 at 6:53 PM, John Walley <>wrote:
>> Although not from a scientist's perspective, I looked into this a few
>> years ago when he came to my church here. I think he is on to something.
>> I was heavily in to RTB at the time and they have a competing theory but I
>> still found his much more plausible. I think the weakness of his that most
>> people seize on is that he dates the advent of the star (a planetary
>> conjunction if I recall) a few years earlier than 4BC which is when it is
>> supposed to be and I don't recall how he deals with that, but the rest of
>> his presentation is very convincing. It relies heavily on assumptions of the
>> astronomical and astrological knowledge and accepted understandings of the
>> day but as most of here are non-literalists, that shouldn't be that much of
>> an objection.
>> I would definitely recommend you go and check it out. I think you will be
>> impressed. A quick perusal of his site ahead of time would be wrothwhile as
>> well.
>> John
>> ------------------------------
>> *From:* Allan Harvey <>
>> *To:*
>> *Sent:* Fri, November 20, 2009 7:42:11 PM
>> *Subject:* [asa] Star of Bethlehem presentation?
>> So is anybody here (particularly any astronomers) familiar with a guy
>> named Rick Larson who has a supposedly scientific inspirational DVD
>> presentation about the Star of Bethlehem. This appears to be his website:
>> It will be shown (as an Adult Ed offering) at my church soon. Good,
>> harmless, or something to steer people away from?
>> Allan Harvey, ASA Member

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Received on Sat Nov 21 16:53:04 2009

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