Immersive Theartres

The Christmas Star

The Christmas Star

If we assume the Star of Bethlehem was a real astronomical event, what could it have been?

This astounding presenter-led planetarium show (based on the book The Christmas Star by John Mosley), proposes a surprisingly compelling explanation for what this 'star' may have been. 

Numerous planetarium shows exist offering explanations for the 'Christmas Star', yet many are unfairly selective of the already sparse 'clues' we have at our disposal.

For example, according to the Biblical account, the star was not particularly bright or noticeable, as King Herod and his advisors did not see it.

Also, the star appeared twice - first when Christ was born, causing the Magi (Middle Eastern astrologers) to embark on a long journey to Jerusalem; and the second time over the house (not stable) where Christ was living, and where the Magi delivered the gifts. This is why Herod had all boys two years old and under put to death, because approximately a year had passed between the first and second appearance of the star.

All this detail - and more - is revealed in our presenter-led show The Christmas Star.

Below you can view the night sky component of the show (created with the free astronomy application Stellarium), where we point out the following:

  • [0:05-1:40] - Bethlehem, before dawn, on 12 August, 3 BC; demonstrating the perfect conjunction of Jupiter (the 'King Planet') and Venus (the 'fertility' planet) in the east, near Regulus (the 'King Star'), in the constellation of the Lion (symbol of the tribe of Judah)
  • [1:40-3:30] - Advancing the calendar three days at a time until 01 June 2 BC, observing the retrograde motion of the King Planet around the King Star in the constellation of the Lion
  • [3:30-4:00] - Advancing the calendar one day at a time until 17 June 2 BC, where a second perfect conjunction of the King Planet and the fertility planet occurs
  • [4:00-5:04] - Appreciation of the beautiful night sky over Bethlehem on the night the Magi most likely brought gifts to the toddler Jesus.

Planetary conjunctions, retrograde motion, and other astronomical concepts are vividly explained in the show using fulldome imagery.

Down below is a newspaper article from 2003, when this show was presented at the Glasgow Planetarium, and attended by the Astronomer Royal for Scotland.

Film Type

KS2-KS5  /  Families  /  Adults
Length: 30min

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