December 22, 2015 7:41 pm

What was the Star of Bethlehem? Find out Friday from Neil deGrasse Tyson

Artwork depicting the Star of Bethlehem, by Djahan form the iStock collection.

Credit: Djahan/iStock.

Not even the Catholic Church can say for sure what the Star of Bethlehem really was.

Don’t believe me?

Then tune in Friday to hear Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, the Director of the Vatican Observatory, tell you his favorite theory.

Brother Guy was just an astronomer and the Curator of Meteorites at the Vatican Observatory back when we first recorded this classic episode in Season 2 – just this year he was appointed director by Pope Francis.

Brother Guy thinks it’s most likely that the Star was actually the heliacal rise of a group of planets, but Neil shares a different theory, one that he prefers, derived from Chinese astronomical records.

Also up for discussion: Santa Claus, and his sleigh. Neil and our two co-hosts for the episode, Leighann Lord and Chuck Nice, talk about the physics of Santa’s sleigh, and what might happen to Rudolph if Santa could move fast enough to visit every eligible chimney. They also talk about the constellation Orion and some of the more predominant stars in the winter sky: Betelgeuse, Rigel and Sirius.

Some familiar friends of the show also pop into Neil’s “Holiday House Party”: Seth MacFarlane, and Bill Nye (long before he was our regular guest host).

If you’ve never heard this episode before, one highlight you won’t want to miss: the story of how NORAD got into the business of tracking Santa on Christmas Eve.

And if you have heard it, it’s still worth listening in for the new content we’ve added to this Extended Classic. It’s a new segment we’re calling “The Cosmic Crib,” where Neil and his guests “chew the fat” about currently relevant scientific issues. In this episode, Neil talks about asteroids with Bill Nye and astrophysicist Steven Soter, Co-Writer of Cosmos A Spacetime Odyssey and Cosmos A Personal Voyage.

Join us for Extended Classic: Holiday Lights this Friday, Dec. 25 at 7pm ET on our website, iTunesPodcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons

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