Monday, February 14, 2022

Venus, My Morning Star

 Annamaria on Monday

I was deep into research for this post before I realized that it would launch on Valentine's Day. I'm going ahead with my original plan on the notion that the planet Venus happens to be named after the Roman goddess of love. Though its is a bit of a stretch, that will, I hope, make it suitable for today.

What inspired me though was a sighting of Venus shining brightly just before sunrise a few days ago. Since I was a young child, I have been fascinated by celestial bodies, beginning with the Moon. I remember walking along holding my father's hand and thinking that the full moon was following us. That was all it took. I have been a Moon worshiper ever since.  For a number of years now I have been following NASA's daily photograph. It is usually the first thing I see each morning - a photo of the Universe taken by famous telescopes or great photographers all over the world.  They fill me with wonder and keep in perspective the transient pains and annoyances of being a human being on planet Earth.

                                Photo: NASA
Perhaps this is why I was so dazzled by that view of Venus. Entranced by its brilliance, I decided to take a picture. Or maybe I just wasn't quite awake at five something in the morning. But I grabbed my trusty camera.

About that camera, it's little and not particularly impressive:

Cork included for size perspective

I have learned to appreciate my little machine, because with its ease of handling and it's 30 times zoom, I have been able to take some pretty difficult pictures, sometimes – to my delight – out doing fellow travelers with lenses the size of a respectable bazooka. Here are a few as examples:

These first two were taken on a group game drive where my 10 companions were
wielding cameras that collectively must have cost more than my BMW.  I was the
only one who captured that elusive lion and Kilimanjaro at sunset

Michael can attest that I took this on that evening when he took me to see 
the full moon rise, a super special event for me,

I sort of succeeded in zooming all the way in on that sighting of Venus, despite the lack of a tripod. The result is pretty fuzzy, and perhaps you would think trashable.

I, however, was delighted. Somehow, having captured something that vaguely resembled a planet with my little camera made me so happy and fascinated, that I decided that I didn't know enough about Venus.

Official Images of Venus

It turns out that the planet has fascinated human beings since prehistoric times. The first records we have tell us that our human predecessors were not only fascinated by the brightest star in the sky, but gave it a name. Pretty much, Venus has always been associated with the female. The Sumerians called her Ninsi'anna, which means "Divine Lady, illumination of heaven."  The astrological image for Venus is the same as we still use as a symbol for the feminine.


The ancient Greeks and Romans thought of her as two different stars. That was true of a number of cultures around the world including the Chinese and the Mayans of South America. This is understandable because Venus is both evening and morning star.  And between its appearances just before dawn and just after sunset, it disappears entirely, when the sun is between her and us.  This happens once every 584 days.  You see, Venus and Earth differ in their path around the sun. Unlike planet earth's elliptical revolution, Venus's is almost exactly circular.

 One of the most fascinating things I uncovered in my research was this image, which is the path Venus takes. As seen from earth, in the center of this pentagram, this is how Venus moves. Somehow, to me, this is perfectly gorgeous.

Also, when it comes to rotation, while earth rotates anti-clockwise, Venus rotates clockwise.  This means that, on Venus, the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. 

Eventually, humans discovered that what they thought was a star was really a planet.  Among other early experts on Venus, Galileo – by observing its movements – realized that it was moving around the sun, not around the earth.

The image on the left is what the researchers call a "false color."  It seems 
appropriate given the temperatures.

Since humans have undertaken space exploration, we've learned a lot about our neighbor. In addition to size, one of the things we have in common is that Venus is terrestrial, in other words it's composed of rock and something like continents.  But there the similarity ends.  The surface temperature of Venus is between 820° F (438C) and 900° F (482C). The atmosphere of Venus is horrifying. It is about 96% carbon dioxide and the atmospheric pressure on its surface is 92 times greater than that of Earth. Because of that dense atmosphere, my little picture is really a photograph of the cloud cover.  

Here is a infinitely better image than my own, and I offer it as my Valentine greeting for you:

Van Gogh "accurately” painted Venus as larger than the other stars but smaller than the Moon.  It is just to the right of the cypress tree.

May both the morning star and the Goddess of Love shine on you today.  


  1. HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, SIS. Much love from us both! I agree that the image of Venus' path is fascinating and appropriately filled with hearts--both open and disguised. I also appreciate your posting an image of Starry Night, my favorite Van Gogh painting--not to mention your skill with your little Lumix with a Leica lens. HOWEVER, there is one image that instantly stood out to me on this Valentine's Day as somewhat quite different from what you describe. It's the sort of elephant in the room observation I'd hoped EvKa would make, sparing me the slings and arrows to come. BUT truth must be served.

    Your fuzzy little picture of Venus has a doppelgänger lurking out there on the Internet. Just search under images for "male condom rolled" and you'll see what I mean.

    Excuse me while I now run and hide.

  2. Well, I guess we know what JEFF thinks about on Valentine's Day...

  3. Yes, EvKa! I won’t further comment on that, but I will say that Jeff has ruined my fun. Having lead a life without having to become familiar with the item he speaks of as a “male condom,” I was happy with my fuzzy planetary image. Now, I won’t be able to think about it as anything else when I look at my photo. 😞. BTW, is there such a thing as a “female condom?” I am familiar with what Is available to women, but I have not heard of such a thing. Or was Jeff just being redundant again?

    1. Yes, indeed, there IS a female condom. Here's a picture of it:
      But, yes, I suspect Jeff was just being pedantically redundant JeffJeff.

    2. No redundancy, ma'am, just the facts.

    3. EvKa, HAHAHAHAHAHA! How ever did you find that PERFECT photo of a “female condom.” Hilarious.
      I have not attempted the internet search that Jeff suggested, since I don’t think I want to see the images I would find. I am NOT at all tempted to ask Jeff why he makes such a search. I really don’t want to know.