How the cosmos guided the three wise men to Bethlehem will be the focus of a presentation in the Bechtel National Planetarium at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.
The presentation, conducted by Murray Thorson of Richland, covers the astrological signs in the night sky that heralded the conception of Jesus, his birth, his presentation in the temple in Jerusalem, as well as the journey of the three wise men who followed the stars from the orient to Bethlehem to honor the child.
“I have researched this topic for about five years, and I am writing a book on it,” Thorson said. “The content is incredible and historically accurate about how science is interwoven into these biblical events.”
Thorson, an engineer with Washington River Protection Solutions, will talk about how the wise men, following the brightest stars in the sky, traveled for about two months before they arrived in Jerusalem. There, they visited with King Herod and told him they were looking for the newly born king of the Jews. Herod lied and requested the magi tell him where the child was so he, too, could honor the baby, when in fact he planned to kill him.
Thorson’s research on the topic of how astronomy and the birth of Jesus included spending long hours studying the writings of Josephus, a non-Christian historian who wrote about King Herod. His presentation also includes projections of the night sky on the planetarium’s 36-foot panoramic viewing dome, which can simulate a 3-D effect without the need for the special glasses.
A typical CBC presentation in the planetarium is about an hour long, said Kristy L. Henscheid, director of the planetarium. The first half is usually a live presentation by one of the CBC staff members and covers topics like the night sky, or other new astronomy discoveries, she said. The second half is a full-dome movie. There are 12 movies in planetarium’s library that cover astronomy, as well as other educational topics, like biology and the earth’s climate.
“We opened just over two years ago, and we’re the largest planetarium theater in the state,” Henscheid said. “Our digital projection system is state of the art, and enables us to not only show the night sky, but also fly to planets and galaxies, (as well as) project full-dome movies made especially for the round screen found in a planetarium. We use all this to share the wonder of science, technology and the universe, and enrich education and outreach in the community.”
The facility also is used for CBC classes in astronomy, biology, environmental science and communications and student club events. The site offers free field trips for K-12 classes.
Doors open for the Star of Bethlehem presentation at 6 p.m. Seating is limited to 99 people. For more information about the planetarium and its events, go to www.columbiabasin.edu/index.aspx?page=1496.