November 29, 2016

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Planetarium Presents “The Star of Bethlehem” Dec. 2

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State University Planetarium will present “The Star of Bethlehem” at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., and 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2. The presentation is free of charge and open to the public.

During “The Star of Bethlehem,” the VSU Planetarium will recreate the night sky as seen from Bethlehem at the time Jesus was born. This program has been an annual holiday tradition since 1983. 

“Jesus was, of course, born during the reign of King Herod, but Herod died in the year 4 B.C., so contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not born in the year 1 A.D.,” according to VSU’s Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences. “The Christian calendar does not actually count the years since Jesus’s birth because of an error by the fourth-century monk Dionysius Exiguus, but biblical accounts and other historical records provide clues as to when Jesus was born and when he died. In particular, the Book of Matthew is full of astrological significance known to the Magi.

“Several natural explanations for the star of Bethlehem have been proposed in the past by astronomers, including that it may have been a comet or an exploding star, but these theories are not supported by observation. The star of Bethlehem was most likely a rare triple conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, which occurred in the year 7 B.C. The planetarium program will include a recreation of that triple conjunction, which may have been the basis of the three treasures offered by Magi. The program will also show an even rarer massing of all the planets during the dawn of April 17 of the year 6 B.C. Such a grouping would have been astrologically auspicious for a divine birth and may have been the basis of Luke’s ‘multitude of the heavenly host.’”

Seating for each of the three presentations is limited to 47 guests. Free admission tickets will be distributed beginning at 6 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis at the VSU Planetarium.

The VSU Observatory will be open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., weather permitting, allowing guests the opportunity to view the planets and the stars.  

Located on the third floor of Nevins Hall, the VSU Planetarium features a Digitarium Kappa digital projector, which can reproduce the night sky as seen from anywhere on Earth or from the surface of any object in the solar system, at any time in history, past or future. This technology is the first of its kind in the world.

Limited parking will be available in front of Nevins Hall and across Patterson Street.

Planetarium public outreach shows are appropriate for children ages 5 and up. Upcoming presentations include “Whispers from the Cosmos” on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017.

Contact VSU’s Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences at (229) 333-5752 for more information.

On the Web: