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Star Stories
Tales from the dark skies of Tenerife, brought to you by the guides of the stars!
Star of Bethlehem!
with Peter Louer, your guide to the dark skies of Tenerife.

The Star of Bethlehem or Christmas star is well known from the story of the 3 wise men but is there any evidence that it actually happened, scientists have been arguing for years about what this could have been and putting forward theories based on astronomical data and historical writings and sightings from other ancient cultures such as the Chinese.

Nobody has come up with a definitive answer with conjunctions of the Major Planets being one of the most common theories based on the fact that there was a very close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter in the year 2 BC, however this doesn’t fit all the historical data as one of the central characters of the story King Herod is thought to have died in 4 BC.

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.”

  • Luke 2:10

Another theory is that a comet or Nova was the object, this fits in with historical reports from both China and Korea from the year 5 BC but we are never likely to know the real truth behind the story. This all leads in very well to the fact that we have a Christmas Comet in our Skies this year, Comet Wirtanen is a short period comet which takes about 5.4 years to complete one orbit, which sees it come within the orbit of Earth before once more moving out towards the region of Jupiter’s orbit. This time it is going to pass close to the Earth, well close in astronomical terms 11,580,000 Km from us and whilst it won’t be a spectacular sight in our night sky, it became a naked eye object around closet approach on 16 December, however through binoculars or a telescope it should show up well and photographically, being a hyperactive comet it is a spectacular sight with its beautiful green coma. The Picture of the comet with this article, was taken by myself on 7 December from my home in North Tenerife using my Canon 600D camera with a Canon 100-400mm lens set at 250mm on a NEQ5 mount and a 3 minute exposure, F5.6 ISO 1600.

Happy comet hunting and a Merry Christmas Peter


Just to wanted to take this opportunity to wish all our friends and family a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from all of the Dark Skies Tenerife Guide Team.

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