The Moon stages a beautiful encounter with Venus and Jupiter at dawn tomorrow. They're quite low in the southeast at first light. Both planets are just above the Moon. Venus is the brighter of the two, and it's a little closer to the Moon.
In the mythology of the sky, Jupiter represented the king of the gods. Venus and the Moon, on the other hand, are among the few sky objects that are identified as female. In just about every culture, most of the other planets, the stars, and the constellations were male. But most saw Venus and the Moon as goddesses.
The name Venus, in fact, comes from the goddess of love and beauty. Venus was the Roman version of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who in turn was adapted from the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. Today, almost all the features on Venus are named for real or fictional women. Two of the most prominent features are named Aphrodite and Ishtar.
The Moon was associated with the female reproductive cycle, and therefore became a goddess of motherhood and fertility. In a West African version, for example, the Moon was the mother goddess who sent a bird to Earth to deliver babies. And the cultures of Mesoamerica identified the Moon with a whole pantheon of goddesses. One example was the Maya goddess Ix Chel, the wife of the god of creation.
Look for Venus and the Moon -- two beautiful sky goddesses -- and the handsome Jupiter -- huddling close in the morning sky.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2002, 2007
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