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.


About Samford University – Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 4th among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,619 students from 44 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.