Our A-Z challenge journey through the sky is about over and today we have our last major heavenly body to explore: Venus. Don’t worry, I will have posts for w, x, y, z, but they’re not going to be nearly as exciting as the ones so far. For some reason, Jupiter (or Zeus) was never tempted to seduce a beautiful woman named Wanda, Xinda, Yvonne, or Zanda, and then in consolation to their mistreatment by his wife, give them a place in the sky.
Venus is a lovely planet from earth. It’s close to the same size as our home planet, the second planet from the sun, and is a most inhospitable place and isn't very pretty close up. It is the hottest planet, hotter than even Mercury even though it is further away from the sun. Gas in the atmosphere traps in heat and the surface can be as hot as 870 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hot enough to melt lead. The atmosphere is much heavier than earths and consist of Carbon Dioxide and Sulfuric Acid and other goodies. You’d have to hold your nose because the smell, but the good news is that you’d not last long. The surface is dry and dotted with volcanoes, some of which are still active. Although the Venus year is only 220 days long (as it has less distance to circle the sun), it’s days are very long as are its nights as the planet slowly rotates.
In ancient times, it was thought that Venus was two stars, the morning star named Lucifer and the evening star called Vespers. But as astronomers began to figure things out, they realized it was on the same star and since it is closer to the sun than the earth, it is either seen in the morning or evening and never high overhead. In the Bible, Venus as a morning star is referenced. The King James Version translates Isaiah 14:13 as “O Lucifer, son of the morning.” However, Lucifer is not in Hebrew. The word Lucifer is Latin, meaning “Bearer of the Light.” Although Venus sounds hellish enough for Lucifer, the reference to this star doesn’t always mean the devil or Satan. In the last book of Scripture (Revelation 22:16), we read of Jesus speaking: “ I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
Of course, the name Venus is taken from the Roman goddess of love and pleasure.
If you want to see Venus, go out early tomorrow the morning. The planet is the third brightest object in the sky (behind the Sun and moon) and can often be seen when other stars are not visible. Look for it in East just before dawn, near the waning moon. (If you are reading this blog later, check to see whether Venus is in the morning or evening sky).