In the Bible, the magi said to Herod that “we have seen a star in the east when it rose.” There has been a lot of archeoastronomy discussion on whether or not this reference to a star is in fact reference to an actual star.
There are three main theories.
The first theory is that the star was a comet. The second theory is that the star was a nova or supernova event. The third theory is that the star was a rare conjunction of planets.
The comet theory and the nova/supernova theory each have their supporters in the scientific community, but it is the planetary conjunction theory that inspires the most compelling archeoastronomy story about the star.
Just like the myths of the Oracle and the Cyclops, the myth of the star is truly a story of surreal imagination with real human experience embedded within.
In this video, presenter Frederick Tamagi discusses what the magi actually witnessed.