Heavenly Bodies

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

If you were up early this morning did you see in the pre-dawn dusk Comet Swan coursing across the sky?

That apparently was the best time to see it in the Northern Hemisphere although it may be visible for a few days yet to come. A few weeks ago it was likely that it would be seen easily with the naked eye, but it has deteriorated very quickly as it’s orbit has taken it closer to the sun, but it was never going to survive it’s pass close to the sun anyway.

Comet Swan was never destined to be another Halley’s Comet calling round every seventy five years or so, most famously in 1066. In that year it appeared shortly after the death of Edward the Confessor in January.  Harold Godwinson took this to be a good omen for his succession, all the more so after he defeated Harold Hadrada. He probably thought it less good an omen three weeks later when he was sat with ‘an eye full of arrow on his horse with his hawk in his hand’ at Hastings (might be a small prize for the first one to give the correct literary reference for that quote). To rub it in, William had the comet included in the depiction of his conquest in the Bayeux Tapestry.

It is sometimes claimed the Star of Bethlehem was Halley’s Comet but it is fairly certain it wasn’t. The dates don’t quite work out even allowing for the inexact dating of Jesus’ birth, and secondly the Babylonians and Persians were good enough astronomers to know a Comet when they saw one, and if they did they would have said it was a comet not a star.

God gave them a sign to follow, just a he did with the Israelites, all his Prophets and Saints down through the ages.

He continues to give them to us today, it is our job to discern them and follow them.


Lord God, our loving Father in Heaven, who from the earliest days has guided us.  We pray you continue to do so that we might find our way through the problems and opportunities of life, that we may find a closer way of walking with you through all the trials that befall us.

In your Mercy hear our prayer,