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What does Debrecen physicist say about the Star of Bethlehem?

What does Debrecen physicist say about the Star of Bethlehem?

Have fireflies invaded the Mediterranean region in large numbers? Did a stray meteorite just enter the atmosphere? We spoke with Attila Forgacs, a physicist and amateur astronomer, about how science looks at the miracle of the Star of Bethlehem.

We cannot examine the miracle itself, we can only take into account possibilities known in the natural sciences. If we start from the hypothesis that a sign appeared to the wise men of the East who followed it, then we must search for the answer among the natural phenomena that are characterized by the sudden and amazing appearance of something.

– said Attila Forgax.

As he said, a supernova, a star explosion, is usually like this. He explained: “But we reject it because we cannot find any written evidence of it, and if a star explosion occurred, many people must have seen it.” He added that the comet also tends to appear suddenly, and there is also an artwork where it appears in the form of the Star of Bethlehem. – For example, in one of Giotto's paintings, he depicts the manger with the baby Jesus so that he depicts a comet with a column in one of the corners of the picture. This may have been because Giotto had seen Halley's Comet with his own eyes and would have thought that this was what the Star of Bethlehem looked like. The astronomer said there is no record of a comet.

Planet names: Jupiter and Saturn

“What we know for sure happened was the meeting of the two planets, Jupiter and Saturn.” Throughout history, people have spent their lives calculating it. Today, we have an easier task: free astronomy software like Stellarium accurately shows the positions of celestial objects in any part of the world at the time we specify.

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The astronomer explained that if we identify Jerusalem and December 6 BC in such an application, we can see how close Jupiter and Saturn are to each other.

He noted that these two planets met three times at that time and were so close to each other that they seemed almost one. – These two planets are seen together in the sky every 20 years, and the last time we were able to see them this way was in December 2020 – explained Attila Forgacs.

The astronomer also said that there is no specific reference to the star of Bethlehem in the Bible, but as he added, the prophecies did not say that these two planets would meet.

There were various prophecies about the birth of Jesus, predicting the appearance of a sign when the Savior would arrive. This is why it is important to point out that the Star of Bethlehem indicates the time of Christ’s birth, not the place.

He confirmed.
According to Attila Forgax, this time was considered special in several ways – Saturn is the planet of Israel, and Jupiter belongs to royalty, so the two together represent the king of Israel. In addition, their partnership was founded in the constellation Pisces, where Jesus gathered fishermen as disciples and entertained people with fish. He added that the fish is still a widely spread Christian symbol, for example, you can see it on the back of many cars.

Kings at home

The astronomer also shared his thoughts on the Three Kings; They brought gold, incense, and myrrh to the great occasion. – I haven't invested in gold yet, so that's been ruled out, but I did give colleagues frankincense and myrrh as Christmas gifts, and these are still nice touches, and are readily available in the form of essential oil or incense. .

A gift here or there, he noted, because as a father he probably didn't give the visitors a vote of confidence. “If three strangers had knocked on my door when my son was born, I don't know if I would have accepted them.” The role of the parents in the story is indisputable, but this is no longer astronomy. Astronomy deals with obvious, explainable things, not miracles.

Although it is not just such a wonderful miracle that there is no scientific explanation for it. It can also be a miracle if someone meets the love of their life or even such a rare planetary position

he added.

Faith and science

When we asked Attila Forgax about the relationship between the two fields, we mentioned that the work of priests and scientists was not separated for a long time, and astronomy, astrology, philosophy and theology were included in the universities.

At the time of the Bible's birth, serious astronomical knowledge was already available. There is a part in the Book of Job from which we can infer that they were aware that the stars moved, even if very slowly. European culture had only known this since 1718. This breakthrough came with Galileo, who was one of the first to use the telescope, which the Church refused to consider. in it. They couldn't put the whole thing into perspective, and they couldn't say that science could be sacred either

He confirmed.

– The view that we should measure everything that can be measured, and make everything that cannot be measured, comes from Galileo. This is a very successful way to learn about the part of the world where the degrees of freedom are small, such as when throwing a stone. If I want to understand how I can replicate a certain phenomenon, we don't need much more, but the problem is that our life is a fairly small set. If I wanted to learn about my wife using the rigorous methods of the natural sciences, I could write a doctoral thesis by calculating how many kilojoules of energy she burns per day or the spectrum of her radiation, but I don't know anything about her. He said that.

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Being under the constellation of luck

Of course, the astronomer is not afraid to look into the telescope. He also plans to spy the skies during the holiday season, which will undoubtedly require a little luck. – Amateur astronomers always joke when they buy a new telescope that the sky will be cloudy for two weeks because of me. I recently made a little stargazer in the garden, which has a permanently mounted telescope, and since I built it, the sky has been full of stars three times.

More interesting things in our podcast.

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