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Week of December 19-25, 2003 — BIG TIMBER (MT) PIONEER — Page 15 Wì)e sitar tijat styone o'er Petljleljem toill foretier be a mpöterp to ¿eterne By E L L I O T T PINE “Now when Jesus was horn in Bethlehem in Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, Saying. Where is he that is bom king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Then Herod, when he had privi ly called the wise men. inepiired o f them diligently what time the star appeared. When they had heard the king, they departed, and lo. the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it stood over the spot where the young ehild was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. ” —Matthew 2-2-10 The Star! Matthew calmly records the appearance of this mar velous heavenly portent as a histori cal fact. For I900 years many mil lions have believed the majestic and unimaginably beautiful herald of the Messiah actually shone over Bethlehem, casting a beam of efful gent glory on that stable “where the young child was.\ It has seemed entirely titling the birihplace of Christ should be point ed out in so magnificent a manner. Few laymen ever thought of ques tioning the reality of that star, although nothing like it ever was known before or after the momen tous event. But astronomers, being exact scientists, have tried to recon cile the evangelist’s words with the known facts on the nature and motions of heavenly bodies. The other three Gospels, by ihe way. do not mention the star. In the I7th century, Johann Kepler, one of the greatest of the early astronomers, while calculating the orbits of the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, extended his fig ures back to the time of Christ He discovered these three planets were in conjunction in the year 7 B.C.. according lo the calendar. Making allowance for the well known error in dating the year of Christ's birth, it was possible lo cull the year 7 of our era as actually the year in which Christ was born. Now if. as Kepler calculated, the three planets were very close together in that year, they would form a brilliant glow in the sky. during the month of December. So. Kepler reasoned, the conjunction of these planets was die Star of Bethlehem. In sign of Pisces This conjunction appears m die sign of Pisces, or the Fishes, every 800 years Since the sign of Pisces had a special meaning to the Jews, ii was entirely logical for the Magi to interpret an apparently new- star within this sign as the long awaited messenger from heaven, and to start on the long journey. Kepler's theory satisfied pretty well until 1826. when Professor Idclcr of Berlin pointed out that at no time arc the three planets in absolute conjunction so they would appear as a single star, even to the miked eye. Another piece of evidence tend ing to cast doubt on the Kepler theo ry was brought in by the geogra phers. They showed there were no roads or trails through the mountain ous regions the wise men had to tra verse on which they could keep the planets in sight for any length of time. So this attractive explanation gradually faded out. It will not he until early in the 25lh century, how ever, that scientists can test die full possibilities of Kepler's conjecture. It is not entirely ruled out until this time conics. Perhaps a comet In the last century' came a new attempt to explain the Star. Prof R.A. Proctor propounded the theory that the mystic sign was really a comet. These celestial travelers of space. Haring up suddenly, moving across the sky often for days or weeks, and then disappearing, always impressed die ancients as mighty portents. There arc a few flaws in this theory, loo. us several historians quickly declared. First, a comet was a fearful thing to all peoples of antiquity, a harbinger of evil to come, a warning of retribution for sin. The Magi, being learned in astrology, would know this, of course, and would not likely consid er a comet an announcement of the Saviour's arrival. It is possible these wise men did not follow the prevail ing superstition. They might have called some comet His star. It is objected, however, that any comet bright enough lo attract Ihe wise men's attention would be noted down in some secular history— Josephus, in particular. There is no such confirmatory account. The nova theory Lately, a plausible and poetic theory has been presented. The Star of Bcihlehem may have been a ‘nova\ or suddenly blazing star. For a brief time a nova may outshine every star in the sky. The most brilliant on record llared up in 1572. Another was observed by the afore mentioned Kepler, and by Galileo, in 1604. Novae that can be seen by Ihe human eye are rare. It is only since photography has been applied to astronomy that much is known about them. What causes (he flaming phe nomenon is not known, but possibly it is occasioned by the collision of two “dead” stars. The impact liber ates the fiery interiors of the two bodies, and the seething gases swirl and shoot in a glorious display of light. The nova may burn for some time, but eventually it cools and fades, and generally disappears from sight. Seldom do they last more than a few days. So if a nova of extraordinary brilliance did burst forth a few days or weeks before the birth of Christ, this could he the Star toward which the wise men hurried, so long ago. It must be remembered, however, that the nova, if such it was. actually had burned out long before the first Christmas eve. because most of the stars arc so distant light takes many years to travel through space from them to the earth. Only lately the Nova Herculis has been seen, but its light has been traveling through space for 1300 years, at 186.000 miles a second. Learned guesses But these conjectures and scientif ic guesses are simply that—guesses. No one knows just what the Christmas Star was. or how it direct ed the wise men from the east to the little town of Bethlehem. It may be that, since there were prophecies to Q t f a A i n y y o u ttv i y AafjfM /icu t f i b & f o f t ( / a y ( S e a s o n a m / ¿ A i o u y / i o u i tA c c o m m y y e a r . C / A t o u i t y a t 5 £ a u > ^ f M a v u f Gliiiitm a i P «Mapfuj Nmu Irfoafi from G r e g o r i c h C o n s t r u c t i o n 9 3 2 - 6 5 0 8 Kea, Mary Be The Crew I t ' s a p le a s u r e d o in g business in a lt o f S w e e t Grass C o u n ty. W is h in g y o u H A P P Y HO L ID A Y S ! From C S r H B U E C O N S T R U C T I O N G i v t i i t m a i Z o & u f i m e . W from S U I E E T G R A S S T I T L E C O f f lP H II V (M id -M o n tana Title of Harlowton) ..e wish you and all your loved ones a very Merry Christmas As your only locally owned and operated title company, we thank you for your business and the support it provides to our Big Timber families and community We appreciate the opportunity to provide you personal, professional service. Thanks again. Serving Sweet Grass, Wheatland and Golden Valley Counties since 1917. 118 W. 1st Avenue P.O. Box 1067 Big Timber, MT 59011 Ph. 406-932-4888 SERVICES: • Title Insurance • Closings • Mineral Reports • Abstracts • Trustee/Litigation ¿fK Jeanne JieaMf, Mikm MaàtUtf ^ d-y* Mask JaUpJuo h guide the Magi to that village in Judea, the Star did not exactly point the way. as come fanciful legends have put it. hut merely indicated to the wise men the glorious day was near ut hand. The director of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago comments (hat no star could “stand still\ in the heavens while the three Magi plod ded wearily onward. It would swing with the other stars in Ihe daily round, as (lie earth (urns on its axis, and again, a slar could nm remain fixed over the stable on that night of nights, casting down a great broad beam of purest light. That is. no \nuturuf' slar could. It would move onward with the procession of the heavens, until it set below- the hori zon. A miracle But the world has believed m that Star for l‘J centuries. Scientists do not deny it could have been a miracle—that “Star of Wonder. Star of Hope\ that shone over the crib of the Saviour It is no more difficult to believe a star could send its beams down on (hat sacred spot than (hat angels sang to the shepherds. \Glory to God in the highest.\ It is one more marvel among many marvels. From the scriptures and from tradition it is known the three wise men or Magi (\Magi\ was the term for astrologer in the Fast) saw a great light m the sky. and took it for the Star (hat heralded the birth of the King of the Jews, who would deln • cr mankind from bondage. The three learned men. called kings by tradi tion. mounted their camels, and came logethcr. one from Chaldea, one from Persia, and one from Arabia. Their names, according to Bede, were Kuspar. Melchior, and Balthasar. When they came to the stable in Bethlehem, they knelt in reverent wonder, like the simple shepherds gathered about the Babe, and offered their rich gilts of \gold frankin cense and myrili\ Today, although scientific knowledge has advanced a thousand-fold since the time of Christ, the mysterv attached to all that sacred story remains The Star of Bethlehem is still a mystery to science It will always remain so, for there is no way to recreate the physical conditions of that night, so long ago. and to inves tigate the phenomena with precise instruments. But millions of Christians will continue to believe the glorious symbol of hope, the Star, shone over the little stable on that first Christmas, while celestial music floated over the countryside, and all the world was hushed m wonder. Reprinted from the December 23, 1943 issue o f tlte Big Timber Pioneer. HAPPY HOLIDAYS 1 M e r r y C h r i s t m a s from A u r o B O p y ROD CHAPPELL 932-5609 I ( m e * A . S a f i “ I j o l k l a y ! We’re happy to be of service to the folks in our area, and wish you our best this holiday season! Have a merry! S T E P H E N S A U T O S U P P L Y Your C A R Q U E S T Auto Parts Store