Washington, Dec 22 (ANI): BBC astronomer and Discovery News contributor Mark Thompson is trying to solve the mystery behind 'The Star of Bethlehem' and believes that Jupiter could be the key.
Thompson went through historical records and used computer simulations of the positions of the planets and stars as they would have appeared.
Between Sept. 3 B.C. and May 2 B.C. there were three conjunctions (on Sept. 14, 3 B.C., Feb. 17, 2 B.C. and May 8, 2 B.C.) where Jupiter passed close to the star Regulus (the brightest star in the constellation Leo).
He found that Jupiter passed Regulus in an easterly motion before appearing to reverse direction, passing the star again in a westerly direction; the change in direction is called retrograde motion.
Because Earth has a faster orbital period than Jupiter, it appears to "overtake" the gas giant. Jupiter therefore, would have appeared to change direction for several weeks before changing direction again continuing its easterly drift - and this change in motion may have been observed and considered a sign by The Three Wise Men.
"The retrograde motion meant the planet was travelling in a westerly direction in the sky and so the [Three Wise Men] may have followed it from Persia," Discovery News quoted Thompson as telling the Telegraph.
"By camel it would have taken about three months and interestingly this is roughly about the same time Jupiter was travelling in this westward direction."
Of course, the idea is just a speculation, but if the 'Three Wise Men' following the Star of Bethlehem was a real event, these known conjunctions involving Jupiter could be a very real possibility. (ANI)