Moon and Venus

StarDate: February 24, 2014

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The Moon and the planet Venus — the dazzling “morning star” — highlight the southeastern sky the next couple of mornings. They’re well up in the sky at first light. They remain visible even during the daytime, although you need to know just where to look to spot them.

The Moon has represented birth, life, and motherhood in many cultures.

The planet Venus maintained a feminine aspect, too. Venus herself was the Roman version of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. But the bright planet’s identification as a love goddess predates the Greeks by centuries.

In the ancient Middle East, for example, it was identified with Ishtar, a goddess of love and war. In various myths she was seen as the wife or daughter of the sky god, or daughter of the Moon god. Over time, she adopted the dual duties of love and war, so she developed an almost split personality.

Because Ishtar and the other gods and goddesses represented in the sky were so important, the Assyrian Empire established a network of observers to watch the sky. They recorded the motions of Venus and other bodies — information that later astronomers found useful for studying changes in the heavens.

Look for Venus to the lower left of the crescent Moon beginning a couple of hours before sunrise tomorrow. The beautiful pairing will be even tighter the next day, with the “morning star” to the upper right of the Moon.

Tomorrow: a beautiful triplet for the unicorn.

 

Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2014

For more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.

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