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Evening Star

Venus.  Credit: NASA

Venus. Credit: NASA

Venus is also known as the evening star. It was given that name by ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks and Egyptians, who saw it in the sky. The planet was eventually named after the Roman goddess of love because of its beauty. Many ancient cultures have his planet with love and womanhood. Venus has been an important object in a number of different cultures including to the Babylonians and Mayans. The Mayans even used the movement of the planet to help create their complex calendar.

Venus is close to the Earth as well as the Sun. As soon as the Sun sets and it gets dark enough, Venus can often be seen in the sky. Because it seems In addition to being known as the evening star, Venus was also called the morning star because it could be seen for a few hours before the Sun grew too bright. The planet actually becomes brightest before the Sun rises or just after sunset. The ancient civilizations thought that the morning star and the evening star were separate celestial bodies. Pythagoras, the famous Greek mathematician, is believed to be the first person to realize that the morning and evening stars were actually the same object – Venus.

The Egyptians had two names for the planets because they thought it was actually two stars. The morning star was called Tioumoutri, and the evening star was known as Ouaiti. The Greeks called the evenings star Hesperos, the “star of the evening.” The Greeks called the morning star, Phosphoros “the Bringer of Light,” or Eosphoros, “the Bringer of Dawn.”

 Besides the Sun and Earth’s Moon, Venus is the brightest object in our Solar System. Its brightness is caused in part by the clouds of toxic gases that comprise its atmosphere. The sulfur dioxide and other elements in these clouds reflect light from the Sun causing the planet to shine.

Long after astronomers discovered that Venus was no longer the evening or morning star it has captivated the imagination of many. The swirling clouds that hid the surface of this shining planet from view were thought to shield a tropical paradise. Ironically, what many considered to be the most beautiful planet turned out to be a burning wasteland – the hottest planet in our Solar System. Another one of Venus’ many names is Earth’s twin because it is similar in size and mass to our own planet.

Universe Today has articles on the morning and evening star and the history of Venus.

For more information, you should take a look at Venus and an introduction to Venus.

Astronomy Cast has an episode on Venus.

References:
NASA History: Earth’s Sister and the Twilight Planet
NASA: Planets

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