The Star Of Bethlehem And Science Fiction

Nativity Star

One of the iconic images of the religious side of the traditions surrounding Christmas is, of course, the Star Of Bethlehem which, according to what is really a quite limited mention in the Biblical accounts, guided “wise men from the East” to the location of the birth of Jesus Christ. It has become a central point of most popular depictions of The Nativity, as well as the subject of much scientific debate regarding whether there is actually any evidence of some kind of stellar phenomenon occurring at some point roughtly 2000 years ago that could qualify as an observable event. The evidence on that question is mixed at best, with scientists claiming to find evidence of some stellar event that could qualify, all of which occur in some year other than what would be call 0 B.C.

On the artistic side, though, the idea of the Star of Bethlehem has inspired artists in both the visual and musical worlds. One of the most fascinating is a short story written by the great Arthur C. Clarke about a Jesuit Priest traveling as a crew member on space mission in the far distant future that comes upon the remnants of an ancient civilization that was destroyed when the star that its home orbited went Supernova. Here’s that story:

Arthur C. Clarke's "The Star" by dmataconis

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Hal_10000 says:

    As I recall, this was the basis for a Twilight Zone episode as well.

  2. Stonetools says:

    Great story.

  3. Tyrell says:

    A planetarium in a close city has a December program about this. It tells about the Star of the East that the wisemen followed to Bethlehem. It gives a lot of information about how this could have been a real natural phenomenon and other civilizations had histories that told of this very star.