Debut writer and former science teacher Baron tackles the ancient mystery of the Christmas star—the astronomical phenomenon recorded in the Bible as having heralded the birth of Jesus Christ.
Baron used star-chart software from NASA to study the placement of the sun, moon, and planets in the skies over a period of years around the probable birth of Christ. Instead of studying the placements of these objects in the nighttime sky, as many have traditionally done, she looked instead at the sky at or before dawn. She took this approach because the Bible quotes an angel as saying “this day” a savior is born, as opposed to “this night.” Baron concludes that a series of 10 events in the year 4 C.E. would have signaled the coming of a divine king to astronomers of the era. Among these signs would have been an eclipse of Saturn by the sun and two solar eclipses. The final sign would have been Saturn rising while Venus and Mars stayed below the horizon. Therefore, “the final beaconing ‘star’…was actually the planet Saturn.” In addition to this astronomical information and hand-drawn charts to show the placements of these astronomical bodies, Baron also provides a primer on astronomy itself, a synopsis of celestial symbolism for various peoples of the era, and a discussion concerning the possible identity of the wise men, or Magi, who came in search of the Christ child. Baron’s work is lucid and provides excellent food for thought. She is to be especially commended for thinking outside the box on what is a long-standing point of argument among experts on astronomy, astrology, and biblical history. What Baron lacks is the professional credibility to drive her conclusions from the realm of lay theory to that of scientific theory. Her research unfortunately lacks the imprimatur of a scientific institution, which leaves the reader susceptible to doubt.
Intriguing study of the “Christmas star” but in need of further scientific backing.