I’m going to let you in on a little secret…long before I was ever called to be a TV host or a writer…I wanted to be an astronaut. In fact, I had my mission planned since I was 12. I was going to be the first human to walk on Mars. It was an outrageous thought at the time, but not so much anymore. Thanks to several advancements in rockets and space travel, many who are alive today, could possibly see that happen in their lifetime. And, if a certain retired space security chief is to be believed, we’re already there, and with friends that are out of this world! 😂(https://www.jpost.com/omg/former-israeli-space-security-chief-says-aliens-exist-humanity-not-ready-651405)
I became so fascinated in astronomy back in 2015, that I even did a video on the connection between astronomical events in history and their connection to the birth and death of Jesus. I took it one step further in my 2018 book, “Story in the Stars”. I’ve long believed that not only did God create the universe but that He did so with great intent and purpose.
It goes back to the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1:14—“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years’.” The original word in Hebrew that is used for “sacred times” is “moed”, and it refers to the biblical holy days such as Passover, Pentecost, Trumpets and Tabernacles. That means that you should expect to see “signs” in the sky during these holy days. That’s why we see the constellation of Aries in the sky during the spring holy day of Passover. A lamb in the sky during Passover to remind us that a lamb was sacrificed at the first Passover to save the people. It should come as no surprise that Jesus—the Lamb of God—was sacrificed during Passover. Aries in the sky makes sense; it serves a sign to mark that holy day.
We should expect this logic to extend to the birth of Jesus. Guess what? It does. According to the data that we have on record, there was an incredible amount of astronomical activity on the night Jesus was born. Again, this is consistent with the mandate of creation in Genesis 1:14. We’re also told in Psalm 8:3—“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place.” So, God used astronomical activity to confirm and affirm important dates in the life and ministry of His Son, Jesus. We can conclude then, that astronomical activity was for our benefit, so that we could have confidence concerning the claims of who Jesus really was.
Let me make one more small but very important observation about biblical astronomy before we move to the “Christmas Star” event of December 21, 2020. God positioned the sun, the moon and the stars in certain places on specific dates in order to coincide with events in the life of Jesus, Therefore, the benefit of astronomy is reflective in nature; it assures us that important events in the life of Jesus did actually occur. They are NOT predictive in nature. We don’t use the sun, the moon and the stars to calculate and determine prophecy, namely the second coming of Jesus. Astronomy is for us to look back with confidence that God did what He said He would do. Using astronomy to predict the future is not only unbiblical, it’s unwise. Very, very unwise.
So, to the matter at hand…the “Christmas Star” conjunction of December 21, 2020! I’ve been flooded with questions and concerns regarding this upcoming event. “What does it mean?” I’ve been asked. Some have inquired “Should we be expecting something terrible to happen?” Does it mean anything at all, or is it just something really cool that we will get to witness? I’m sorry to disappoint…but it’s the latter…just something really cool.
What is the “Christmas Star” and what is it not? Both questions are very important. Let’s start with what it is not. It’s not the Christmas Star. For all those claiming that it is a repeat astronomical event from the night that Jesus was born, it’s not even on the same day. And…according to astronomical activity from over 2000 years ago, Jesus is born in September, not December.
The real “Christmas Star” was a combination of several astronomical phenomena. They included Jupiter during a celestial maneuver known as retrograde. It also included a star named Regulus and a constellation called Leo. I’m not going to get into that here. It would take far too long to go into all the details. If you’re a glutton for pain and enjoy serious details, then you can learn all about the astronomical activity leading up to the day that Jesus was born either in my book “Story in the Stars”, or on the Blu-ray/DVD combo video of the same name. You can purchase either, or both of them here: https://joeamaral.org/story-in-the-stars/.
Now that we know what it is not, let’s talk about what it is…
It is, a very cool planetary alignment or conjunction. As the planets in our solar system orbit around the sun, they routinely “align” from our point of view. Planets that are closer to the sun have much shorter orbits. For instance, the Earth takes approximately 365 days to orbit the sun. We refer to it as 1 year. Mercury, the closest planet to the sun, does it at a neck-breaking speed of just 88 days. Neptune, the furthest planet in our solar system, does it in a whopping 60,225 days! I’m 50 years old, so that means that I would be 210 years old on Mercury and 0.3 years old on Neptune. If you want to have some fun and work out your age on every planet in the solar system, you can go here: https://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/age/.
It’s not uncommon for Jupiter and Saturn to align, in fact, it happens every 20 years. What makes this year very unique is that they will appear much closer than in previous alignments. The last time that a Jupiter and Saturn conjunction this close took place, it was in 1623, almost 400 years ago, but it could hardly be seen because it was too close to the sun. The last time they could actually be observed so close together was on March 4, 1226, almost 800 years ago. The next Jupiter/Saturn conjunction will be on October 31, 2040.
Jupiter and Saturn will appear extraordinarily close to one another on December 21—just 0.06 degrees apart, in fact, which is less than a tenth the size of the full moon in the sky. Jupiter and Saturn will appear closest together shortly after sunset on Monday December 21, 2020, at 4:30pm Eastern Standard Time. This happens to be the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year. They will appear low in the sky to the south-west. You can practice finding them now as the planets are already appearing close together.
So, there it is. The Jupiter/Saturn conjunction of 2020 will be a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event. It may not be the “Christmas Star”, but it will be a really cool way to close out a very crazy and chaotic year!
Keep looking up!
About the blogger:
Joe Amaral joined the team of First Century Foundations as a full-time Itinerant Minister. In 2005 he launched a weekly TV program that was filmed in Israel and aired on basic cable across Canada. He served as the Television Host and the Executive Director of First Century Foundations until 2016. He authored his first book Understanding Jesus in 2011 and his second book What Would Jesus Read? was published in 2012. His third and most recent book, Story in the Stars was released in 2018.
In 2016, Joe served as the daily host of Canada’s longest running daily TV program 100 Huntley Street. In the fall of 2016, he joined the staff of PORTICO Community Church in Mississauga as the Teaching Pastor. Most recently, he founded “Hope for Liberia” in 2020—a registered charity in Canada.
Joe also currently serves as the touring pastor for the legendary Christian rock band: Stryper.