By Joe Rao:
"As a young boy, one of my highlights of the Christmas season was visiting New York's Hayden Planetarium where they would stage their traditional sky show in which astronomers pondered the age-old question of the possible origin of the Star of Bethlehem.
Between 1935 and 1959, Hayden's very first Zeiss projector (three others have been installed since) was run back some 2,000 years in an attempt to reproduce the positions of the planets around the time of the birth of Christ. The entire procedure would take four hours with the planets engaged in an incredible fast-moving dance while the moon flipped around the sky a hundred times a minute!
Ultimately, the projector was brought to a halt on Feb. 25 in the year 6 BC with the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars forming a triangle low in the western sky.
In those days, a silhouette of the skyline of New York was a permanent fixture around the periphery of the planetarium dome, so the planet trio was depicted not above a Middle East desert, but Midtown Manhattan. The audience was then asked: "Was the star seen by the Wise Men an unusual, eye-catching gathering of naked eye planets, or was that fabled 'sign in the sky' a meteor, comet, nova, or something supernatural?"