While scanning through the Internet search engines in 1996, I came across this web site found at http://www.technosophy.com/milltime.htm
(The following are highlights from this article, thus using the items specifically for information only in context with emphasis inserts to clarify certain elements.
To go back to The Mill of Time - Part One - Celestial Cycles And Ancient Mythological Science
The de Santillana association of mythology with celestial factors has not received to date the attention it deserves, and part of the purpose of the present effort is to make this work more widely known. It also leads to some surprising results in connection with the Star of Bethlehem, the Age of Aquarius, and the influence of mythology in history and religion.
Both parts of this article are based primarily on Prof. de Santillana's landmark book, Hamlet's Mill.
Let us now apply the de Santillana hypothesis to what the author firmly believes to be the solution to the long-standing mystery of the nature of the Star of Bethlehem or Star of the Magi referred to in the Bible, which astronomers and others have struggled to interpret, as yet without reaching an acceptable conclusion or consensus.
Researchers looking for a physical explanation for the Star of Bethlehem start by defining a time period, based on historical sources, during which Christ's birth is estimated to have taken place, usually about ten years before and after Year Zero. Then they make every kind of guess as to what the star could have been from all the types of known astronomical phenomena. Finally, by searching historical references and running computer simulations of the skies over the Middle East from 10 B.C. to 10 A.D., they look to discover any likely candidates in suitable documentable phenomena falling within this period.
They have looked at meteors, comets, supernovae, eclipses and planetary alignments. Of these, only the supernova looks and behaves anything like a special, one-point-source star. Bright supernovae are very rare, however, and would be expected to be seen and recorded all over the world for the few to several days of their normal duration. For example, a famous one was seen by the Chinese in July of 1054 A.D. It was bright enough to be seen in daylight, like the planet Venus, for 23 days. We now study the remnants of this great stellar explosion as the Crab Nebula and Pulsar, Messier Object Number One.
Unfortunately, no records corresponding to the apparition of a supernova are found close to the time of Christ's birth. Similarly, no strong evidence is found for very bright meteors or comets occurring during this period. Christ's nativity is often inferred in Biblical chronologies from the time of a total lunar eclipse which Josephus said occurred not long before the death of King Herod, so this was probably not the Christ Star. No eclipses of the Sun were found to have occurred either leaving planetary alignments as the only possibility.
In ancient usage the term 'star' was construed much more broadly than it is today. Any luminous object or configuration of objects in the sky could be termed a star of one kind or another. There were the fixed stars of the background. Planets were "wandering" stars (from the Greek, planetai, wanderers), comets were "hairy" stars (from the Greek, kometes, long-haired) and novae "new" stars (from the Latin, novus, new). Therefore, it is not at all unreasonable to expect that an important configuration or alignment of more than one celestial object would also be termed a 'star,' as in "Star of Bethlehem" or "Star of the Magi."
Closing in on a planetary configuration, a consensus seemed to be emerging in the planetarium world that the triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 6 B.C. was the most likely candidate. Two planets may come close together in the heavens on more than one occasion in a relatively short period of time due to what are called retrograde motions. This occurred with Jupiter and Saturn moving against the background stars of the constellation of Pisces on about May 20th, October 17th and November 16th of the year 6 B.C.
Just this last year (1991), one source … substituted a series of conjunctions of Jupiter with Venus in 3-2 B.C.
The Star of Bethlehem is equally well-known as the Star of the Magi, those said to have seen the heavenly sign when they were in the East (Chaldea-Persia) and then to have traveled West to Jerusalem. The author believes that the solution to all of the mysteries can be found in a new consideration of the triple Great Conjunction series in 6 B.C.
What the astronomers have ignored about the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions of 6 B.C. is that they took place against the background of the constellation of Pisces (both physically and symbolically speaking). The fishes is a Christian symbol. Furthermore, the Vernal Equinox Point at that time was just on the border between the constellations of Aries and Pisces moving backwards and, therefore, into Pisces.
The limitations of space prevent reproducing figures for each of the three Great Conjunctions that occurred in 6 B.C. Therefore, only the first one is shown, the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on May 20, 6 B.C. Figure 1 is a computer-generated graphic reconstruction of a portion of the sky for this date.
The slanted dotted line represents the Ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun through the Zodiacal constellations with respect to the background stars through the year. Planetary and other positions referred to are to be understood as the positions of the objects when projected onto the Ecliptic. A line at right angles to the Ecliptic passing through the object will intersect the Ecliptic at this projected position.
The horizontal dotted line represents the Celestial Equator, or the Earth's Equator projected onto the Celestial Sphere. When the Sun's position on the Ecliptic is one of two possible points where the Ecliptic intersects the Celestial Equator, at noon on that day the Sun will be directly overhead as observed by all persons living on the Earth's Equator. The two points of intersection are called the Equinoxes because, on the days when the Sun is there, we experience an equal number of hours of daylight and nighttime.
The figure shows the Equinox which, when the Sun is at this position on about March 21, officially announces the beginning of Spring in the calendar. This intersection of the two lines (actually great circles around the sky) is called the Vernal Equinox even when the Sun is not there, and is used as the primary reference position for locating all directions in space from Earth. It is the [0, 0] position of our celestial coordinate systems.
It is this point of intersection, this zero reference point, which is precessing slowly along the Ecliptic in the reverse direction through the Zodiac as the Earth's axis wobbles. It is as though, in the figure, the Zodiacal constellations are slowly moving upward and to the left along the slanted Ecliptic while the Equinox point remains stationary. Fortunately the precessional motion is extremely slow or the Vernal Point would not be much good as a stable reference. The movement is about 50 seconds of arc per year, less than 1/60th of a degree.
Other names are the Sigma Point (symbolized by the Greek capital letter Sigma) and the First Point of Aries, which we will see is something of a misnomer now. However, in 6 B.C. when the positions were in effect, the Vernal Point was close to the first point of the constellation, Aries, abbreviated 'Ari' in Figure 1. The lines connecting the principal stars of each constellation indicate its rough shape and extent along the Ecliptic.
A line drawn at right angles to the Ecliptic and between the constellations of Aries (Ari) and Pisces (Psc) in the figure would cross the Ecliptic slightly to the upward-left of the intersection point, the Vernal Point, shown.
It has been mentioned that observation of precession alone was too inaccurate for the ancients to date a World Age within a century. Adding the requirement of a Great Conjunction as close as possible to the Vernal Point eliminated this difficulty. However, it also meant that the Vernal Point would generally not be exactly on the boundary between constellations when a new age began. Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions return to any particular constellation, as we shall see, approximately every 800 years. Therefore, the closest position of the Vernal Point to the constellation boundary must be chosen from the 800-year-interval "windows of opportunity."
For the World Age of Pisces, the best Vernal Point position is that shown in Figure 1, placing it somewhat inside of Pisces. The earlier window, 800 years previously, would place the Vernal Point about 10 degrees to the upper-left along the Ecliptic and too far inside of Aries. This is the best position of the Vernal Point Hour Hand of the Cosmic Clock for the start of the Piscean (and synonymously the Christian) Age.
One of the trickiest problems in deciphering the meaning of the Star of Bethlehem from its Biblical description, in terms of an astronomical phenomenon, has been the statement that the star, originally seen in the East by the Chaldean astrologers, somehow traveled West with them as they journeyed, it is thought over several months, first to Jerusalem and finally to Bethlehem, where it seems to have settled in the West over the town, guiding the Magi to the Child. Let us first dismiss the simple explanation that everything in the sky rises in the East and sets in the West by day and night. The story indicates something occurring over a period of several months, the time it would have taken in 6 B.C. to travel from Persia-Mesopotamia to Jerusalem, and not a daily event taken by itself. Let us examine the broader observational scenario of Jupiter and Saturn from May to November.
(Emphasis mine: added to Figure 1 in red and blue is the chronological time in history for the constellation of Pisces). To return to Chapter Six regarding Pisces and The Signs of a New Cycle.
Figure 1 shows only the first of the three conjunctions which occurred in 6 B.C. The computer's symbols for the planets show them in exact conjunction as projected onto the close-by Ecliptic. This was on May 20th. About five to six months later, on October 17th and November 16th, they were again in exact conjunction, a few degrees Westward (to the lower-right) of this position due to retrograde motions.
On May 20th the Sun would have been about 60 degrees East of the Vernal Point and the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction would have been seen rising in the East very late at night, about four hours before Sunrise. This might have been when the Magi first saw the Sign of Christ's birth "while they were still in the East."
Because the Sun moves one degree along the Ecliptic eastward each day, the planets would have risen earlier and earlier each night until, several months later (not in exact conjunction but still near each other), they would be found above the Western horizon shortly before sunrise, having arced across the sky all night, and would be rising soon after Sunset. In October and November of 6 B.C., back in or close to exact conjunction, the pair would have been seen high in the sky at sunset, and the early hours of the evening would have found them gliding down to the Western horizon to set around midnight.
As Pisces rises, Virgo, the Virgin, on the opposite side of the Zodiac, sets, and vice versa. The idea of Christ's being born of a Virgin is likely a reference to this relationship. The name, Bethlehem, means "house of bread," another possible reference to Virgo because the mythological constellation figure of the Virgin shows her holding a sheaf of wheat.
The disk symbol just above the symbols for Jupiter and Saturn represents the Sun. This Great Conjunction should have been predicted but, occurring on March 18, 54 A.D., a few days before the first day of spring, would not have been seen around the time of exact alignment due to being in nearly the same direction in space as the Sun. The event occurred in the day-time! One can only guess that this is the reason why we do not date the Christian/Piscean Age from this event instead of the earlier one.
There is no problem, however, in determining the exact time of the end of the Age of Pisces and the beginning of the New Age of Aquarius. It is necessary, however, to first determine, as before, the correct "window of opportunity."
Since the Trigon of Great Conjunctions completes a full cycle in about 2400 years, it turns through one-third of the Zodiacal Circle in 800 years. This means that when Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions are occurring in any particular constellation as one corner of the Trigon sweeps through, it will be about 800 years later before the next corner of the Trigon sweeps through the same constellation and Great Conjunctions take place there again.
(Emphasis mine: added to Figure 3 the red and blue for the chronological time in history for clarification of the picture, path of the planets.).
To go back to Chapter Seven regarding the year 2700 for the beginning of the constellation of Aquarius.
In 800 years the Vernal Point moves westward about ten degrees. It is from these ten-degree steps that we must choose the Vernal Point position which most closely meets the boundary between Zodiacal constellations. Figure 3 is a portion of a star map showing the Ecliptic (slanted dotted line) as it passes through the modern astronomical constellations of Pisces and Aquarius. The Celestial Equator is the solid horizontal line labeled 0 degrees in the left margin. Since the star map used was prepared for the precessional epoch of 1950 A.D., the Vernal Point, at the intersection of these two lines, is shown in its position for that year. The modern boundary line between Pisces and Aquarius is the lighter horizontal dotted line crossing the Ecliptic where the astrological symbols for these constellations are located. It is readily seen that the position of the Vernal Point (labeled with the Greek capital letter Sigma) in the 25th Century, the next window of opportunity, is much closer to the boundary than the one 800 years later in the 33rd Century. This is, therefore, the window we must choose.
Who can say exactly where they were set in ancient times or how accurately the Vernal Point could be located in relation to them.
The point is that the ten-degree steps were accurate enough to make the system work very well. One of them could always be found in best agreement with the boundary region. The advantages of precision, predictability and having a clear and visible sign in the real sky of incorporating Great Conjunctions into the World Age dating process far outweighed any disadvantage from not locating the Vernal Point precisely on the boundary.
There was also the advantage of an automatic warning system of the immanent commencement of a new World Age. When the precession has reached its last ten-degree notch and it can no longer be denied that a new constellation is rising before the Sun on the first day of spring, there is then, on the average, a 200-year period in which the conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn every 60 years in this constellation can be seen moving closer and closer toward the Vernal Point. The ancients knew where the Vernal Point was even when the Sun was not there, of course, in relation to the background stars. The World Age conjunctions did not have to occur on March 21st.
Applying this to the Age of Aquarius, there will be at least two or three "Announcers" of the beginning of the Age before it actually starts. The Great Conjunctions in Aquarius announcing (and preceding) the New Age will occur on Feb. 2, 2259; April 27, 2318; and Feb. 18, 2378.
The minute and hour hands of the Big Clock will precisely coincide on May 10-11, 2437 A.D. Figure 5 shows the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on this date. It can be seen in this computer simulation that the positions of the planets are not merely in conjunction with each other but so close to the Vernal Equinox Point as to be in mutual conjunction with it.
This is surely the most precise celestial alignment possible for the commencement of any World Age!
So the popular song from the musical, "Hair," entitled "The Age of Aquarius," was a little premature and got most of the details wrong. It's doubtful that, anytime soon, peace will guide the planets or love steer the stars. The true dawning of the Age of Aquarius will have nothing to do with the Moon being in the 7th or any other House, will involve Jupiter aligning with Saturn and not Mars, and will be more than 450 years too late to have been of any help to the flower children of the '60s. But it was a nice thought and a great song at the time!
If the astronomical time reckoning system of the Babylonians is continued into the Age of Aquarius, then the year 2437 A.D. will become a new Year Zero A.D.A. The abbreviation A.D.A. stands for "Anno Domini Aquarii" (in the Year of Our Lord of Aquarius).
We do not yet know the name of the new Avatar of the Aquarian Age or even if there necessarily will be one, … for the initial of the name of the Aquarian Avatar not yet born.
We can assume that the World Monomyth will need another revision but will tell the same eternal story in a new updated way, somehow utilizing the symbols associated with the constellations of the Water Carrier and its opposite, Leo, the Lion. Perhaps the hero of this Age will be born of or raised by a lion and have a career in water conservation.
The above Figure depicts the event which will inaugurate the Age of Aquarius as it will be seen in the early morning hours just before sunrise on May 11, 2437 A.D. from the latitude of San Jose, California. The computer-generated image shows the exact conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn with the Vernal Equinox very close to the boundary between Pisces and Aquarius.
Copyright 1991, Terry Alden -- All rights reserved.
This page updated on July 30, 2006.