The classical Athenian playwright Euripides wrote: Do you not see how mighty is the goddess Aphrodite? She sows and gives that love from which all we upon this earth are born. Aphrodite for the ancient Greeks bore the name Venus in the ancient Roman world, and in the sky, the planet of love and beauty that bears this goddess’s name is the most brilliant object in the sky, after Sun and Moon.
Venus’ brightness is not the only thing that makes the planet remarkable, there’s also the fact that though the Moon can outshine Venus it never will; that whenever Mars is near Venus, the red warrior is always at its dimmest; and when the Sun is eclipsed, Venus is the first thing to appear.
Right now Venus is our morning star, and on Wednesday, it will be in the Southeast with Mars to the left, a thin sliver of Moon below and right. Venus never appears to be very far away from the Sun, and when the Moon is near Venus, it’s also near the same region as the Sun, so it will always be at crescent phase.
When Mars is in the same region of sky as Venus, it is moving furthest away from the Earth, toward the other side of the Sun, so it appears dim and dimmer to us.
So we’ll see this on Wednesday: crescent Moon hanging out in its phase of deference to the Goddess, with dim Mars beside.
In April during the Total Solar Eclipse, the daytime visibility Venus will be one of the first of the unusual eclipse-related phenomena to occur. As such, a total solar eclipse could also be described as the birth of Venus, she who sows and gives that love from which all we upon this Earth are born.
From rainy California at the moment,
This episode of The Storyteller’s Night Sky aired on Interlochen Public Radio Monday, February 5, 2024 and can be heard on podcasts everywhere at anytime. Image above from Sky&Telescope. As our morning star, Venus is sowing love and beauty into the world, while the Moon sweeps by as a thin sliver of itself, and Mars fades from view.