When the wise men came to Bethlehem seeking the newborn King of the Jews, they followed a star. Later, when Yeshua in his earthly ministry taught of his return in the latter days, he spoke of another visible sign in the sky: Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30).

Since the Scriptures do not describe the star of Bethlehem or say very much about the sign of the Son of man, we can only speculate about them. Was the star of Bethlehem a fiat act, or was it the miracle of natural phenomena conjoined by the Creator to occur just at that given time? Is it possible that the star of Bethlehem and the sign of the Son of man are the same? If so, the star must be able to reappear at the return of Christ. Some theories about the origin and nature of the star preclude this idea. Nevertheless, about 10 years ago in a quarterly journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, three British scientists proposed a theory that the star of Bethlehem could reappear at any time.

Drs. John Parkinson of the Mullard Space Laboratory, Richard Stephenson of Newcastle University and David Clark of the Royal Greenwich observatory based their statement upon the theory that the Bethlehem star was not a conjunction of planets as some had previously believed, but a nova, the temporary flare-up of a distant star. After a study of ancient Chinese and Korean records, the three concluded that the Bethlehem star was seen by the Chinese in 5 B.C. The timing would have been correct because the monk Dionysius Exiguus is thought to have overlooked the four-year reign of the Emperor Augustus when he fixed the new era in 533 A.D. This error in calculation would then place the birth of Jesus at 4 or 5 B.C.

The scientists theorized that the star of Bethlehem was not the result of some planetary conjunction, because as described by the early writers, the light seems to have been far brighter than one might expect from a mere planetary conjunction. They thought that it was probably the star of Bethlehem of which Saint Ignatius wrote in the 2nd Century, “Its light was unspeakable, and its newness caused astonishment.”

The scientists further theorized that the star was not a supernova explosion, the total disintegration of a star, which would preclude its return. A supernova explosion would have lasted longer. The great supernova of 1066 was visible for about a year and a half, while according to the Chinese records, the great light thought to have been the Bethlehem star was only visible for 70 days.

Dr. Parkinson said that the Bethlehem star was “likely to have been caused by a small, super-dense dying star in orbit around a star that is probably still shining. The dense small star, with its enormous gravitational field would be pulling hydrogen gas off the larger star. The hydrogen would steadily accumulate around the dense star until, at a certain moment, it would detonate in a thermonuclear explosion. Then the whole process of accumulating hydrogen would start all over again until the next nuclear explosion, perhaps several thousand years later.”

Unsure of the distance of the nova, the three further theorized that the star of Bethlehem will eventually reappear either in the constellation of Capricorn or Aquila.

(The above is strictly conjecture based on an article in the London Daily Telegraph.)