The Symbol for Planet Earth

by Jerry Coffey on May 24, 2008

The Symbol for Planet Earth

Earth's symbol; a circle with a cross in the middle.


The symbol for planet Earth is a globe bisected by meridian lines into four quarters or, more simply put, circle with a plus sign in the middle. There have been many interpretations of the symbol over the years, some mythological and other religious. Either way, it is a symbol that has been used the world over for thousands of years.

The most common and widely accepted interpretation of the symbol for planet Earth is that it represents the globe and the four direction on a compass. This version of its meaning is acceptable to all because of its neutrality and lack of religious connotations. A less neutral(read more controversial) meaning is that it is a stylized version of the Globus Cruciger and symbolizes Christ’s authority over the Earth all those who dwell upon it. Some continue to use the Globus Cruciger as an Earth symbol, but refer to it as the upside down version of the symbol for Venus. This meaning is supposed to show the close, nearly sisterly, relationship between the two planets.

In Norse mythology, the same symbol is used to represent Odin, the main god in the Norse pantheon. In that light, the symbol is sometimes referred to as Odin’s Cross or the Solar Cross. The same symbol is used to represent the State and Church of England under the security of the crown and is symbolized by the Sovereign’s Orb. John Dalton, a pioneer in atomic theory, used the symbol to represent sulfur on his elements chart. The current symbol for the Earth has been referred to as the wheel cross, the sun cross, and Woden’s cross as well.

The symbol for planet Earth has had many names in the past. Each has been unacceptable to one group or another for various reasons. Despite these petty arguments, our planet has continued to sustain us and fuel the fervor of many religions. The planet has been worshiped as a deity throughout recorded history and many archeologists agree that it was treated the same in pre-history. The uniqueness of our planet has fueled the inquisitiveness of man from the beginning.

We have written many articles about Earth for Universe Today. Here’s an article about why Earth has seasons, and here’s an article about how long a year is on Earth.

If you’d like more info on Earth, check out NASA’s Solar System Exploration Guide on Earth. And here’s a link to NASA’s Earth Observatory.

We’ve also recorded an episode of Astronomy Cast all about planet Earth. Listen here, Episode 51: Earth.

Source: NASA

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