Five years from now, the light from the ancient collision of two stars will reveal a brand-new star in the night sky. According to Jewish esoteric sources, this is precisely the celestial phenomenon which will accompany the arrival of the Messiah.The passage in question is, of course, Numbers 24:17. Maimonides and the Zohar are also invoked. As always, my interest here is sociological and historical, not theological, and my citation of this and related stories is not an endorsement of their content.
The new star, expected to appear in 2022 in a blaze of light called a nova, will be the brightest heavenly body visible in the nighttime sky for six months. It will be the first time in recorded history that a celestial event of this kind will be witnessed by the naked eye.
Beyond its scientific uniqueness, the appearance of the new star could have much bigger implications for the earth-bound, one prominent rabbi told Breaking Israel News, pointing to a Biblical prophecy of Balaam which hails the appearance of a new star as the precursor to Messiah.
The astronomical prediction, however, is real. If it turns out to be correct, any alien civilizations that were in the vicinity of this star-pair 1800 years ago really did have an apocalypse: the gamma-ray blast from the stellar collision would have been an extinction level event. I hope they had enough warning to get away. For similar scenarios in science fiction, see Arthur C. Clark's classic story "The Star" and Stephen Baxter's more recent "Traces."
For more on the messianic connotations of Numbers 24:17, see here.