From Matthew we can deduce it was a star that had newly appeared. Also, it travelled slowly across the sky against the star background. The Magi first saw the star in the east, then came to Jerusalem where Herod sent them to Bethlehem, then they went on their way and “the star that they had seen in the east went ahead of them” (2:7). Since Bethlehem is almost due south of Jerusalem (by 6 miles), the star must have moved slowly through the sky from east to south in around 2 months’ time. Popular tradition has the star pointing out the very stable in which Christ was born, but according to Matthew, viewed from Jerusalem the star stood over the place where the child was born, ie Bethlehem. There is only one astronomical object which satisfies all this criteria: a comet with a long tail. The Chinese kept records on interesting stars, and in 5 C.E. there was a comet with a long tail that was visible for over 70 days. This is the only long-tailed comet recorded by the Chinese between 20 B.C.E. and 10 C.E.
And a (somewhat) appropriate recipe:
Sticky Cinnamon Figs
4 ripe figs
Knob of butter
2 T clear honey
2-3 T Armagnac or brandy
Small handful of shelled pistachio nuts or almonds
½ t ground cinnamon or mixed spice
Mascarpone or thick Greek
yogurt to serve
Preheat the grill to medium-high. Cut a deep cross in the top of each fig, then ease the top apart so it opens like a flower. Sit the figs in a small baking dish and drop a piece of butter in the center of each. Drizzle honey over then Armagnac or brandy. Scatter over the nuts and spice. Grill for 5 mins until the figs are softened and the honey and butter make a sticky sauce in the bottom of the dish.