David Taylor’s script goes over the story of Joseph and Mary, of the Wise Men , of Herod’s rule and decisions to murder children under two years, even as it discusses the ideas of Babylonian and ancient Chinese astrologers. Unveiling computer graphics, scale models and effective desert vistas, program explores various theories of astrogeography. With three stand-ins for the Holy Family, program does an effective job of recreating a no-frills nativity scene and subsequent presentation of the gifts.
Hughes, who’s penned a book on the subject, poses theories and discards them, and contemporary stargazers toss in other thoughts. An American comet whiz believes the Christmas Star is a myth but reluctantly agrees it could have been a comet.
It may have been a nova, a supernova, the planet Venus or possibly a conjunction of two planets. Researchers use a combo of history and early astrology plus historical astronomy to pin down the ID of the star; no one sees it as a divine guide to the wise men.
Those wise men, Hughes suggests, may have been as many as a dozen, traveling with servants for three months.
Much of what Hughes proposes uses qualifying adverbs to modify conclusions. Hughes reveals his conclusions for his eventual revelation about the star: by pinpointing Jesus’ birth date as Sept. 15, 7 B.C.; by using a chart to establish eclipses; by rearranging Herod’s death (based on an eclipse of the moon); and by fixing three conjunctions of two planets, as did German astronomer Johannes Kepler centuries ago.