An Astronomer’s Date for Jesus

Zip Dobyns

A Mutable Dilemma subscriber, Joyce O’Neill, sent me a fascinating article on another prospective chart for Jesus. The material was presented in 1980 in a lecture at the Flandreau Planetarium at the University of Arizona. I do not have the name of the astronomer, but he offered a variety of historical material which points to a birth between 6:30 and 8:30 P.M. on the evening of September 1, in the year -1 (alternately called 2 B.C.).

Jesus is generally presumed to have been born sometime during the period from 6 B.C. to 4 A.D. Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, is the source of the information that Herod, ruler of Judea when Jesus was born, had died soon after a lunar eclipse. Dr. A (for our unknown astronomer) comments that lunar eclipses were visible from Palestine in 8 B.C., 5 B.C., 4 B.C., and 1 B.C. Since Herod died after the eclipse but before the next spring Passover, most historians and astronomers have thought that the March 4 B.C. eclipse was the important one, so Jesus’ birth could have occurred as early as 5 to 7 B.C. But recent historical records have challenged that view. Ernest Martin states that Josephus wrote of many events which took place between the eclipse and the next springtime Passover. Martin described Herod’s long journeys in search of a cure for his illness and his subsequent death, of his slow majestic 23 mile funeral procession, of his lying in state for several days, of the seven-day cleansing period for all who came near the corpse, of the customary feast in honor of the dead king, and finally of the time that elapsed until Passover. Dr. A suggests that it is unlikely that all of this could have occurred during a 30 day period; that historians estimate at least 50 to 70 days would have been required. There is only one eclipse-Passover interval that fits this estimated time and that is the one in 1 B.C.

Another bit of historical evidence from Josephus is a description of an oath that was required of all subjects of Caesar Augustus on the 25th anniversary of his rule over the Roman Empire. This demand for a “renewal of faith by all people” required them to go to the city of their ancestors to pledge their allegiance to Caesar. Joseph and Mary were both descendants of David so would have had to travel to Bethlehem. According to Josephus, the timing of this oath was only about 10 or 15 months before Herod’s death, so it probably would have lasted from late 3 B.C. through the following year, matching the suggested birth period of Jesus. Luke offered additional support when he wrote that the 30th birthday of Jesus came in the autumn of 29 A.D. (Dr. A does not explain who translated Luke’s writing into our modern calendar or whether it is considered reliable.)

Dr. A considers some of the possible astronomic phenomena which might account for the “Star” followed by the Magi or “Wise Men.” He dismisses meteorites as too common and short-lived. A comet or a nova is possible, but Dr. A comments that they were mostly considered “evil” and “threatening” by ancient astrologers, so they are less likely as signs of the coming of a great king. Dr. A’s theory is that the movements of our brightest planets in the sign of Leo and Jupiter’s repeated conjunctions of the “King” star Regulus were accepted as signs of the coming savior. As Dr. A describes the sky, Venus and Jupiter formed a close conjunction on August 12, 3 B.C. The “father of the gods” would have been seen separating from the Supreme Father, the Sun, as the Sun rose later each morning so farther from Jupiter, until Jupiter met Venus, the goddess of fertility. During this period, the Sun and Moon, the Supreme Father and Mother, along with Mercury the Messenger, were in Leo. Leo was traditionally associated with the House of Judah out of which Christ was to be born according to the ancient prophecies.

Later that month, Mercury the Messenger left the Sun, speeding on its way toward Venus which it joined on September 1, 3 B.C., while the Sun entered Virgo, the Virgin. The Magi prophecy included the birth of a son from a Virgin, as a descendant of Judah and to be introduced by a messenger. As Venus and Mercury moved closer to the Sun, Jupiter was moving toward the bright King-star Regulus. Regulus was associated with rulership and the Messiah, so the Father of the Gods met the King-star in the House of Judah.

On December 1, 3 B.C., Jupiter turned retrograde and on February 17, 3 B.C. it was conjunct Regulus for the second time. Their third conjunction came on May 9, 2 B.C. Dr. A describes this motion as “circling” the King-star, calling earthly attention to it. Then, just over one month later on the evening of June 17, 2 B.C., Venus and Jupiter formed a rare conjunction that was so close in both latitude and longitude that the two planets were seen “fused” into one light. Dr. A suggests that the Magi (astrologers) might have begun their journey to the land of Judah after that sight. The planets remained close for some weeks, and by August 27, 2 B.C., Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and the thin crescent Moon were all gathered together in Leo while the Sun was again in Virgo. This “massing” of the planets may have been a further support for the Magi theories.

Dr. A then quotes from the Book of Revelations what may be an account of the sky at the time of the nativity. The Sun is described as “clothing the woman” which suggests that the Sun was somewhere between the shoulders and the knees of Virgo. This placement is possible between August 27 and September 15. John also wrote that at the time of the birth, the Moon was located “under the woman’s feet.” The only time during this span when the Moon was visible anywhere near the feet of Virgo was a period of two hours from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M. on September 1, 2 B.C.

Dr. A summarizes his description by saying that Jupiter rose out of the Supreme Father, united with Venus, circled Regulus, and gathered with other bright planets in the house of Judah. Then Jupiter separated from the other planets until its next station on December 25 when the “star” could again be described as “standing” in the direction of Bethlehem to the south. Dr. A suggests that though this could not have been the birth date of Jesus, it might be the date on which the Magi arrived in Bethlehem with their gifts for the young child. All dates listed are in the Julian calendar. I tried them on the computer in both Julian and in our modern Gregorian calendar, and the Julian one gave the planet aspects described by Dr. A. The Venus-Jupiter conjunction had both latitude and declination identical to the minute, and the longitude difference was only seconds, less than one minute variance between the two planets. They would have looked like a single bright star. At this point, I don’t know how rare it is to have such a close conjunction. We also calculated the “fixed stars” for the date and in the time interval suggested by Dr. A and compared the Moon’s position against our listing of star longitudes and against a graphic display of the constellations on the computer screen. The Moon was in the area of the feet of Virgo.

I have calculated a speculative chart for the interval suggested by Dr. A, and it is a possible fit to a remarkable life. I picked the time that would put the Uranus-Pluto opposition on the Ascendant-Descendant. Six of the planets are in the sixth house, and certainly Jesus’ life was centered in his work. A close Sun-Mercury conjunction in Virgo marks the teacher and healer. The Mars-Jupiter conjunction (with Venus more widely involved) supports the identification with God, and the Ascendant, East Point and Antivertex in Pisces repeat the message. Neptune, ruler of the Ascendant, is in the eighth house in Scorpio with an octile to the MC and trioctiles to the Ascendant, East Point and Antivertex, pointing to the shadow of death which hung over his short life. Pluto opposite the Ascendant repeats that message. The Leo grouping trines the Sagittarius MC for the spiritual work. Saturn on the third house cusp in Gemini speaks of the lasting mental impact of his life work.

It is harder to work with progressions when we lack precise dates, but the solar arc directions are reasonable for the few approximate dates that we have for the life of Jesus. If the journey to Egypt is not a myth, we have strong solar arcs at around age two with Mercury on the Sun, the Sun trioctile the mean nodes, Pluto opposite Ascendant-Uranus, Jupiter on Mars, Saturn square Mercury, MC octile Neptune, Uranus on the Antivertex, Moon moving to semisextile Neptune, Venus semisextile Pluto, Ascendant on the East Point, East Point on the Antivertex with one or both of these auxiliary Ascendants trioctile Neptune.

There are also appropriate solar arcs at around age twelve when Jesus is said to have visited the temple and astonished the Doctors with his understanding of spiritual matters. Jupiter would have been conjunct the Sun, a classic aspect for attention and honor connected to spiritual knowledge. Neptune trine the East Point also supports spiritual awareness as does the MC aspecting Jupiter though the aspect is a conflict trioctile. The Solar Arc Ascendant would have been quincunx the Sun, Saturn quincunx Neptune, and Moon quincunx Ascendant-Uranus. (Jesus was separated from his parents, “lost” as far as they were concerned, and they were worried.)

The chart is progressed to the possible date for the crucifixion, using the data from a Science News article which we previously published in the Sagittarius 1985 issue of The Mutable Dilemma. P Uranus has remained on the Ascendant of my speculative time and P Pluto has moved to oppose both Uranus and Ascendant. P Moon is dramatically on the MC square the East Point. P Antivertex is trioctile Mercury and Sun. P East Point is trioctile P Mars. P Ascendant opposes P Neptune in the eighth house. P MC is just five minutes of longitude short of a quincunx to P Jupiter. Adding a fraction of a minute to the birth time would put it in orb. P Sun is octile Jupiter. P Venus is on Mars. P Mercury is quincunx the Antivertex. P nodes aspect Ascendant, P Uranus and P Pluto. Only Saturn is without an obvious aspect though it has a parallel with Pluto and it remained in a lifetime square to the Sun/Mars midpoint which carries the same meaning as a Saturn square to each of the factors. P Saturn also held a lifetime trioctile to the Neptune/Pluto midpoint and in the quotidian (daily angles), Q East Point was opposite Saturn on the P south node of Uranus. The latter held the opposition to Saturn throughout the life.

I miss the asteroids, but the midpoints and nodes of the planets can help to amplify the picture. The possible chart for the crucifixion has many aspects to the speculative chart for Jesus. The eclipse falls across natal Moon and P Sun with the Antivertex in the chart for the traditional time of death forming a T-square to the lights. The Ascendant in the speculative death chart is on P Jupiter in the chart for Jesus and it is quincunx the death Neptune. Pluto and Jupiter in the death chart are closely opposite each other and more widely square Mercury with Pluto on the P eighth house cusp in Jesus’ chart. The East Point in the death chart is conjunct Jupiter in the possible chart for Jesus. As Dr. A pointed out in his lecture, we will probably never be sure whether our theories are correct, but the desire for knowledge will keep us searching.

Copyright © 1989 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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