Sunday, May 20, 2007

The New Moon and Venus, Goddess of Love

Did you see this? Tonight, Venus and the crescent moon were side by side. In Vernal, it was absolutely an awesome sight. Everything is so clear here. After 10pm every light in town is off, except a few flickering TV screens. The stars are so bright and clear in the sky.

Since viewing this amazing spectacle, I've been so taken with the planet Venus. I discovered that until the 1960s, Venus was often considered a "twin sister" to the Earth. Venus is the nearest planet to us, and superficially the two planets seem to share many characteristics. In earlier times, there was considerable speculation concerning the possibility of life on Venus, sometimes with rather elaborate results! In 1686 a French "man of letters", Bernard de Fontenelle, wrote:
"I can tell from here . . . what the inhabitants of Venus are like; they resemble the Moors of Granada; a small black people, burned by the sun, full of wit and fire, always in love, writing verse, fond of music, arranging festivals, dances, and tournaments every day." (Quoted in National Geographic, June, 1975)

Hmm, sort of reminds me of a rumor Oliver Huntington recorded in his journal:
"As far back as 1837, I know that he [Joseph Smith, Jr.] said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do~that they live generally to near the age of a 1,000 years. He described the men as averaging nearly six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style." (Young Woman's Journal, Vol.3, p.263)

The planet Venus was named after the Roman goddess of love, and is the only planet in the solar system named after a female figure.

It is supposed that the placement of Venus in our horoscope chart provides insight into what we are attracted to and what is attracted to us. My chart tells me that I have Venus in Libra. This means that I am forever young at heart and open to love. I have an expressive nature, am a great romantic, and idealistic. I am warned, though, that trying to strike the right balance at every turn may be a bit much to ask. Who else has Venus in Libra? Bill Clinton!


JohnR said...

I did catch this, even in the glare of Orange County. Did you know that Venus has phases? It's in gibbous phase right now. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it's actually at its brightest when it's a crescent. They can be seen even through a pair of good binoculars.

Now that Pluto's demotion has raised awareness and stature of dwarf planets, maybe it's worth noting that two of these are named after women: Ceres (named after the goddess of grain and motherly love, which has an orbit in that carries it through the asteroid belt) and Eris (named after the goddess of strife and discord, which is larger than Pluto but has a much more eccentric and distant orbit).

Ack! Once I start talking astronomy, I can't stop!

Rich said...

One interesting aspect of observing Venus through a telescope (or good binoculars) is that it goes through phases like the moon.

Rich said...

Okay, that was a weird coincidence with JohnR! Brainwaves....!

Rich said...

John, come out for a visit sometime and call me -- I've got a 16-inch monster scope whose views of the heavens are unbeatable.

Lacey said...

I have a somewhat random request for you. I am a reporter for the Uintah Basin Standard in Roosevelt, and your blog keeps coming up on our google hit counter. We're wondering if you would be willing to let us write a little feature story on you and your blog. Since I have no way of contacting you, if you could e-mail me at to let me know whether or not you would be interested, I would really appreciate it!

Bored in Vernal said...

Lacey, Thank you for your kind offer. I'm very flattered. Although I'm sure it wouldn't be too difficult for you to discover who I was if you really wanted to, nonetheless I would rather remain anonymous to the larger community. I like to be free to blog about issues I really care about without being fearful of repercussion or criticism.

Loyd said...

i saw this and pointed it out to my friends. though in my astronomical ignorance, i thought it was jupiter.

JohnR said...

Rich, you're on (and thank you for your generous offer)! We'll be in Utah this summer, and I still have your email address, if you haven't changed it in the past year or two.