The History of How We Think of Venus

Illustration of Venus

Everything you need to know about the history of Earth’s mysterious neighbour.

From being viewed as two distinct stars, to a planet inhabited by “Venusians”, to being considered the second planet Earth, human perception of Venus has evolved through the ages. 

Named after the Roman goddess of love, likely due to its bright appearance, Venus has sat quietly in the sky while we make our own assumptions as to what it might contain and represent. Only through recent scientific developments have we been able to bring some clarity to what our neighbouring planet is and isn’t.

Ancient civilisations used to believe that Venus was two distinct stars

Due to its proximity to the sun, the illusion created by sunlight fooled the ancient Greeks and Egyptians into believing that Venus was actually two separate stars, visible at sunrise and sunset. These were named the morning and evening star respectively, and became the subject of worship for generations. The disproportionately brighter light given from Venus even earnt itself a mention in the Bible, being compared to Jesus himself. It took a few hundred years before the Greeks realised that Venus was a single object moving within Earth’s orbit, in what must have been a sobering moment for all involved. 

UFO spotters believe that aliens belonged to Venus

In ‘ufology’, the study of extraterrestrial life, it became very convenient to ascribe aliens to Earth’s closest neighbour. Going as far back as the 1950s, alien sightings were claimed to be of “Venusians” who had arrived on planet earth to make contact with humans. While most of the photo and video evidence was investigated and debunked, this hasn’t stopped the fanatical imagination with Venusian life, and conspiracies can still be found in blogs and videos via a quick internet search. 

The idea of Venusians has also made its way into science fiction movies and comics, showing that they are not only a hit with theorists, but with the entertainment industry too.

Some people believe that Venus may be Hell itself

Image of Venus

The mystery of the unknown gives license for the imaginative mind to wonder. None more so than Dr Michael Santini, a former aerospace engineer who wrote a book detailing how Venus is the physical embodiment of hell itself. While the ancient Greeks had beliefs concerning the physical existence of religious places, Dr Santini’s book demonstrates that similar opinions still exist in society today, despite advances in astronomy.

People believe that Venus used to be another planet Earth

These days, due to the wonders of 21st century science, we can be more sure of what Venus is, as well as what it could have been in the past.

It’s boiling hot. 900 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact. It also has 92 times the pressure of Earth, its atmosphere a veritable blanket of sulfuric acid which clouds its visibility. Thanks to this, the planet is difficult to examine and has therefore been able to maintain a degree of mystique.

Scientists believe that Venus used to boast a cooler climate, similar to that on Earth. This has led to speculation that Venus is presenting us with an insight into the fate of our own planet, as climate change takes hold. While conditions on our sister planet would certainly not be able to support life as we know it, there has been evidence that bacteria could be living in the clouds, where the atmosphere is cooler.

When will we know for sure?

As we can see, the beliefs and discoveries we make about Venus are ever changing. From scientific discoveries to new theories based on faith and opinion, the mystery behind Earth’s sister planet means it will always be a playground for the imagination.

Earth Day: What’s the Big Deal and How Can You Get Involved?

Earth Day is not an ancient tradition.

However, it is quickly becoming a significant event in the world’s calendar, growing in popularity and celebrations across the whole globe.

earth day, protest, save the earth, captain planet

The long and short of Earth Day’s significance comes down to it being the most popular of all events that celebrates the planet we inhabit. It’s a way to pause for thought and consider the magnificence of our world and how our actions are impacting it.

At last count, over 190 countries have organized celebrations to mark the occasion, and usually the festivities happen during the Spring Equinox, which changes in exact date but is generally around March 21. That said, the UN has now marked April 22 as the official date and has rebranded it as International Mother Earth Day.

What’s the significance of Earth Day?

earth day 2019, earth day 2020

It’s a day to embrace everything about our planet — from the plants to the animals, biodiversity at every level and the environments that we inhabit. The overall aim is to develop and nurture awareness of the issues facing our planet and, more generally, encourage people to appreciate the planet we have and not take it for granted.

How can you get involved on Earth Day?

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You don’t have to make the effort to attend one of the major rallies organized in your country, nor do you have to become an activist and begin chaining yourself to trees. Everyone can participate and it doesn’t have to be a huge, grand gesture. The smallest of actions can have the largest of benefits.

With that in mind, here are some examples of ways that you can get involved:

  • Get on board with the recently trending #TrashTag. This movement’s premise is simple: head to a local area which has been littered, take a before and after photo then post your accomplishments on social media. This can be as simple as visiting your local park or street, or as grand as an organized beach clean up such as those seen in Mumbai, India.
  • Planting trees and saplings is one of the most heartwarming activities to carry out during Earth Day. Not least because, if it’s local, you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor over the coming years. Trees are being destroyed at a rate that’s unsustainable, so even planting one slowly begins to turn that tide.
  • Sharing your knowledge with the younger generation or those who don’t understand the implications is a superb way to mark the occasion. This doesn’t have to be a lecture or lengthy seminar — it can be as simple as sharing a few facts over a coffee. Bonus points if you meet somewhere that is accessible without a vehicle!
  • That’s just a quick start with some ideas that really don’t take a lot of organizing at all. When it comes to Earth Day, the simple recognition of the event and spreading awareness of its cause will be more than sufficient to make an impact.

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