On June 30, 2015, an extremely rare phenomenon will happen involving planets Venus and Jupiter. Called a conjunction, this is when the orbits of those planets cause them to almost seem to join together into one “superstar” relative to the way we see it on Earth. If you are interested in astronomy at all, or just like to peer up at the sky on a really dark night, you probably have seen both Venus and Jupiter. Both are very prominent in the sky from our Earth-based viewpoint. Venus looks really bright because it’s so close to us. Jupiter looks so bright because it is just really, really, almost unimaginably huge. In any case, on an average night, these two stars would be the star of the celestial show (pardon the pun).
June 30 will not be an average night at all really. It has been over 2,000 years since the last time the orbits of Venus and Jupiter caused this phenomenon, and that has some people out there wondering if the last time Venus and Jupiter joined up in the sky, a phenomenon Christians refer to as the Star of Bethlehem might have been the result.
It kind of makes sense. Everyone knows the story. The star, assumed to be an act of God commemorating the birth of Christ and leading an untold number of wisemen to find him bearing gifts, could actually be explained by a real scientific phenomenon that just happens to coincidentally fall around the same time that the events in the Bible supposedly happened.