How Venus Got Its Name

Venus is one of the five planets that are visible with the naked eye. Due to its easy visibility, the ancient people were well aware of the planet�s existence. They also kept track of its movement in the sky. Venus is the second planet closest to the Sun. Aside from the Sun and Moon, Venus is the brightest object in the sky; it is even brighter than the brightest stars! It is 10 times brighter than Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. Venus�s clouds project the light of the Sun as a mirror would. In addition to Venus�s amazing luminosity is the origin of its name.

Venus derived its name from the Romans who religiously followed the Greek tradition. Venus is the Roman version of the Greek goddess, Aphrodite. The Roman and Greek goddess of love, beauty and fertility is Venus and therefore, the planet was named after her. Perhaps the fact that Venus is the brightest planet in the sky contributes to how it got its name. It is quite possible that the Romans found the brightness to be so enchanting that they felt it deserved to be named after the goddess of beauty and love. Furthermore, the Romans were aware of 7 bright objects that existed in the sky, moon, sun, and the 5 brightest planets. These planets were named after the most important gods. Due to Venus being a goddess of womanhood, all of the features on the planet, except for one, are named after women. The main craters, for example, are named after influential women that existed during various times. One of them is the famous ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who lived from 1881 to 1931. Sacajawea, the Native American tribeswoman who explored the West with Lewis and Clark, has a crater named after her as well. The greatest female poet of ancient Greece, Sappho, has a crater named after her too. The only exception to the female domination in names of things on Venus is the Maxwell mountain range that is named after James Clerk Maxwell, a Scottish mathematician. This occurred because the mountains were assigned names before anyone decided to only solely use women�s names. Evidently, the planet Venus represents womanhood, pride, and love in many ways. Even the symbol for the planet Venus is the symbol of a circle with a cross at the bottom, which stands for being a woman.

Another interesting thing about Venus�s name is that it has a nickname. Venus is often referred to as Earth�s Twin or Earth�s Sister. Although the two planets are visually different, they have roughly the same size, density and composition. Venus also orbits at a similar distance from our Sun. In the past, the two planets were hard to distinguish. However, over time, they have each evolved into two very different planets.

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