Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2011-11-22


The multimedia presentation, “The Star of Bethlehem” will be shown four times during December at Samford University‘s Christenberry Planetarium. The hour-long show will begin at 7 p.m. on Dec. 12, 13, 15 and 16.

The show addresses questions that historians and scientists have long pondered about the star that appeared in the east, as described in the New Testament gospel of Matthew, said planetarium director and “Star of Bethlehem” host George Atchley.

According to Atchley, 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler offered the possibility of a supernova as an explanation of the Christmas star over 400 years ago.

“Since Kepler’s time, our understanding of heavenly dynamics has changed considerably, but explaining the star of Bethlehem remains very much a mystery,” said Atchley. “However, as historical and scientific clues continue to collect, perhaps Matthew’s account of the star is better explained as the result of a naturally occurring event, such as a comet, a pairing of planets, an eclipse, or a supernova.”

Or, is the star of Bethlehem a miraculous occurrence that defies natural causes? The presentation’s virtual journey to Jerusalem and Persia will present some of the strongest candidates for answers, said Atchley.

Admission is free.  The show is suitable for all ages, although Atchley notes that the material may be more appreciated by ages 8 and up.  The planetarium is located in Samford’s Propst Hall. For information or to schedule a special showing for a group of 10 or more, contact Atchley at or (205) 726-4139.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.