ASK Commentary
December 11, 2005 

An Important August 2 B.C.E. Conjunction

Commentary for December 11, 2005 — Perhaps Not so Important! 
 
Question:
I have a very interesting idea about the Jupiter-Venus conjunction on August 12, 2 B.C.E. This conjunction would have been all the more dramatic in that it would have occurred at the very peak of the biggest meteor shower of the year, the Perseids, which peak every year about August 11–12. No doubt those magi would have noticed that too, and assigned an even greater significance to the conjunction. 
 
Or are my facts wrong? If this is correct, it would be worth including in your book. 
 
Answer: When I first read your question I thought you were proposing the August 12, 2 B.C.E. as a better date for Jesus’ birth. Then I correctly understood that you were merely attempting to add evidence to that already developed by Dr. Martin. 
 
Dr. Martin took into account all the various Jupiter-Venus conjunctions in his book The Star That Astonished the World (online complete at http://www.askelm.com/star/index.asp). In fact, he took into account ALL the events of the many months prior to Jesus’ birth on September 11, 3 B.C.E. It was ALL of the astronomically foreseeable events taken together that convinced the Magi to travel to Jerusalem and seek out the prophesied King of Israel. 
 
On August 12, 3 B.C.E. (a year before the 2 B.C.E. conjunction that you propose), Jupiter and Venus were within .07 degrees of each other in the night sky. That is extremely close, although the appearance was not as close as the June 17, 2 B.C.E. conjunction when Jupiter and Venus appeared to be a single super bright star.  
 
View the video graphic presentation developed by MSNBC and Griffith Planetarium, available every year on their website at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3077385. It was developed without Dr. Martin’s knowledge and they graciously gave permission for ASK to permanently post the video on our website (at http://www.askelm.com/video/v020301.htm). In the presentation, the significance of the 3 B.C.E. Jupiter-Venus conjunction in August is duly noted, rather than the August 12, 2 B.C.E. conjunction that you feel is important. The MSNBC presentation states:

“For the purpose of this exercise we’ll use the arguments put forth by Ernest L. Martin in his book The Star That Astonished the World and set the date some time in 3 B.C.”
The Time Stamp of Revelation 
 
Unfortunately the MSNBC presentation does not show any reference to the “time stamp” indicated in Revelation 12:1. This time indicator led Dr. Martin to conclude that the birth took place when the biblically described astronomical events of Revelation 12:1 actually could be seen in the sky — only on September 11, 3 B.C.E. By the way, the passage of Revelation 12:1 was not a prophecy. It was written after Jesus’ birth and it should be considered as strong historical evidence. 
 
That verse CANNOT be ignored or “spiritualized” away as some wish to do simply because it does not fit into their data set. Griffith Planetarium does not consider the data of Revelation to provide any useful information. They choose to ignore it for several reasons. 
 
I am unsure whether the August 11–12, 3 B.C.E. (or a year later in 2 B.C.E.) conjunction had any greater significance just because it occurred on the day of the Perseid meteor shower. You would need to demonstrate why the presence of the meteor shower would give special significance any conjunction. 
 
As mentioned above, a more important event was the extremely close conjunction of June 17, 2 B.C.E., some 8 months after Jesus’ birth when the planets Jupiter and Venus appeared to be so close that they seemed like one gigantic star in the sky. This is all discussed in Chapter 1 of Dr. Martin’s book. This conjunction was likely the final confirmation interpreted by the Magi that a tremendous event had taken place, and where the event took place. Soon after that conjunction they started their long journey to Jerusalem to seek out the King of the Jews. 
 
September 11 in 3 B.C.E., the day of Jesus’ birth, was an important day in the Jewish yearly calendar. It was the day called Rosh Hashanah, the “head of the year.” It marked the beginning of the civil year on the Jewish calendar. It is also known as the Day of Trumpets. Traditionally it is considered a day of judgment. Most significantly it was the day the Jews expected the advent of the Messiah. Their expectation was fulfilled, even though they do not realize it — yet. 
 
While your thought processes are admirable, to add your idea to Dr. Martin’s evidence you must show me how the Perseid meteor shower added significance to that conjunction (or adds to any astronomical event). All data must be considered according to its relevance. 
 
May God bless you as you continue in your studies,

David Sielaff 
david@askelm.com

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