How Did Venus Get its Name?

by Fraser Cain on May 14, 2008


Venus is one of the 5 planets visible with the unaided eye. This means that ancient people knew of Venus, and tracked its movements in the sky. Venus is the second planet away from the Sun and is the brightest object in the sky aside from the Moon and the Sun and it appears 10x brighter than the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. The clouds of Venus reflect the light of the sun like a giant mirror.

Venus was named after the Roman Goddess of Love (in Greek, Aphrodite). In ancient times, Venus was known to the Babylonians as Ishtar, the goddess of womanhood and love, so the planet has a long standing tradition of being associated with amore. Furthermore, the symbol for the planet Venus is the symbol for womanhood; a circle with a cross on the bottom.

The ancient Egyptians and Greeks thought Venus was two separate bodies and named them The Morning Star and the Evening Star until in Hellenistic times, people figured out that it was only one object.

About 

Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

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