Solar System, technical/Classical planets

"In antiquity the classical planets were the non-fixed objects visible in the sky, known to various ancient cultures. The classical planets were therefore the Sun and Moon and the five non-earth planets of our solar system closest to the sun (and closest to the Earth); all easily visible without a telescope. They are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn"[1].

This central part of a large floor mosaic depicts Aion-Uranus personifying the sky. Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol.
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"[A]stronomically, the visible Helios occupies the central position among the seven planets - Kronos, Zeus, Ares, Helios, Aphrodite, Hermes, and Selene, in a descending series."[2]

With the exception of the Sun (Helios) and the Moon (Selene), none of the other classical planets apparently had a visible disk. Yet, whenever they were sighted, they were more than noteworthy, due to their brightness and the fact that they moved relative to the other stars. (The word "planet" comes from the Greek planetes, a wanderer.) This suggests that they were capable of generating something that in turn caused harm when it fell to Earth.

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Notation: let the symbol Def. indicate that a definition is following.

Notation: let the symbols between [ and ] be replacement for that portion of a quoted text.



To help with definitions, their meanings and intents, there is the learning resource theory of definition.

Def. evidence that demonstrates that a concept is possible is called proof of concept.

The proof-of-concept structure consists of

  1. background,
  2. procedures,
  3. findings, and
  4. interpretation.[3]

The findings demonstrate a statistically systematic change from the status quo or the control group.

Proof of concept may be the direct association of harm from the sky whenever a classical planet is seen to be connected.

The planetary equivalents of the Hindu are "Sourya est le Soleil; Bouddha, Mercury; Soucra, Vénus; Mangala, Mars; Vrihaspati, Jupiter; Sani, Saturne; [et] Tchandra, la Lune"[4].



Usually the wanderers are the seven classical planets, Saturn, Jupiter, the Moon, the Sun, Mercury, Mars, and Venus. Additional wanderers may also have existed in ancient times, such as the Earth's pole stars.



"There is one God, greatest among gods and men, neither in shape nor in thought like unto mortals ... He abides ever in the same place motionless, and it befits him not to wander hither and thither."[5]

"Saturn, the old man who lives at the north pole, and brings with him to the children of men a sprig of evergreen (the Christmas tree), is familiar to the little folks under the name Santa Claus, for he brings each winter the gift of a new year."[6]

"The religions of all ancient nations ... associate the abode of the supreme God with the North Pole, the centre of heaven; or with the celestial space immediately surrounding it."[7]

"Lenormant, speaking of Rome and Olympia, remarks, "It is impossible not to note that the Capitoline was first of all the Mount of Saturn, and that the Roman archaeologists established a complete affinity between the Capitoline and Mount Cronios in Olympia, from the standpoint of their traditions and religious origin (Dionysius Halicarn., i., 34). This Mount Cronios is, as it were, the Omphalos of the sacred city of Elis, the primitive centre of its worship. It sometimes receives the name Olympos."1 Here is not only symbolism in general, but also a symbolism pointing to the Arctic Eden, already shown to be the primeval mount of Kronos, the Omphalos of the whole earth.2"[7]

"As an offshoot of these Hellenistic speculations we should place Tacitus, Histories V,2: "Iudaeos Creta insula profugos novissima Libyae insedisse memorant, qua tempestate Saturnus vi Jovis pulsus cesserit regnis" (quoted from Loeb Classical Library)."[8] i.e., "Jews were fugitives from the island of Crete and settled in Libya recorded the time when Saturn was driven from his throne by force of Jupiter".

"The motif of Saturn handing over power to Jupiter derives, of course, from Hesiod's account of the succession of the gods in his Theogony, and his story of the five successive ages of men -- the first, or golden, age being under the reign of Kronos (Saturn) and the following ages being under the reign of Zeus (Jupiter) -- in his Works and Days (110ff.). These stories were often retold. Ovid, for example, combines in his Metamorphoses the stories in the Theogony and Works and Days, telling us how, "when Saturn was consigned to the darkness of Tartarus, and the world passed under the rule of Jove, the age of silver replaced that of gold."8"[9]

Pole stars

This diagram shows the path of the north celestial pole among the stars due to the precession (assuming constant precessional speed and obliquity of epoch JED 2000). Credit: Tauʻolunga.
This diagram shows the path of the south celestial pole among the stars due to the precession (assuming constant precessional speed and obliquity of JED 2000). Credit: Tauʻolunga.

"At the present time, the northern pole star, or North Star, is a moderately bright star with an apparent magnitude of 1.97 (variable), the brightest star in the Ursa Minor constellation (at the end of the or "handle" of the "Little Dipper" asterism).[10] Its current (October 2012) declination is +89°19'8" (as per epoch J2000 it was +89°15'51.2"). Therefore it always appears due north in the sky to a precision better than one degree, and the angle it makes with respect to the horizon is equal to the latitude of the observer. It is consequently known as Polaris (from Latin stella polaris "pole star"). It also retains its older name, Cynosura, from a time before it was the pole star, from its Greek name meaning "dog's tail" (as the constellation of Ursa Minor was interpreted as a dog, not a bear, in antiquity)."[11]

"Due to the precession of the equinoxes (as well as the stars' proper motions), the role of North Star passes from one star to another. The name stella polaris has been given to α Ursae Minoris since at least the 16th century, even though at that time it was still several degrees away from the celestial pole. Gemma Frisius determined this distance as 3°7' in the year 1547.[12]"[11]

"In the Roman era, the celestial pole was about equally distant from α Ursae Minoris (Cynosura) and β Ursae Minoris (Kochab). Before this, during the 1st millennium BC, β Ursae Minoris was the bright star closest to the celestial pole, but it was never close enough to be taken as marking the pole, and the Greek navigator Pytheas in ca. 320 BC described the celestial pole as devoid of stars. Polaris was described as αει φανης "always visible" by Stobaeus in the 5th century, when it was still removed from the celestial pole by about 8°. It was known as scip-steorra ("ship-star") in 10th-century Anglo-Saxon England, reflecting its use in navigation."[11]

"The precession of the equinoxes takes about 25,770 years to complete a cycle. Polaris' mean position (taking account of precession and proper motion) will reach a maximum declination of +89°32'23", so 1657" or 0.4603° from the celestial north pole, in February 2102. Its maximum apparent declination (taking account of nutation and aberration) will be +89°32'50.62", so 1629" or 0.4526° from the celestial north pole, on 24 March 2100.[13]"[11]

"In 3000 BC the faint star Thuban in the constellation Draco was the North Star. At magnitude 3.67 (fourth magnitude) it is only one-fifth as bright as Polaris, and today it is invisible in light-polluted urban skies."[11]

"The Celestial south pole is moving toward the Southern Cross, which has pointed to the south pole for the last 2,000 years or so. As a consequence, the constellation is no longer visible from subtropical northern latitudes, as it was in the time of the ancient Greeks."[11]

"There have been many pole stars throughout the millennia. Around 2000 BC, the star Eta Hydri was the nearest bright star to the Celestial south pole. Around 2800 BC, Achernar was only 8 degrees from the south pole."[11]

Orbital poles

This is a snapshot of the planetary orbital poles. Credit: Urhixidur.

"An orbital pole is either end of an imaginary line running through the center of an orbit perpendicular to the orbital plane, projected onto the celestial sphere. It is similar in concept to a celestial pole but based on the planet's orbit instead of the planet's rotation."[14]

"The north orbital pole of a celestial body is defined by the right-hand rule: If you curve the fingers of your right hand along the direction of orbital motion, with your thumb extended parallel to the orbital axis, the direction your thumb points is defined to be north."[14]

At right is a snapshot of the planetary orbital poles.[15] The field of view is about 30°. The yellow dot in the centre is the Sun's North pole. Off to the side, the orange dot is Jupiter's orbital pole. Clustered around it are the other planets: Mercury in pale blue (closer to the Sun than to Jupiter), "Venus in green, [the] Earth in blue, Mars in red, Saturn in violet, Uranus in grey [partly underneath Earth] and Neptune in lavender. Dwarf planet Pluto is the dotless cross off in Cepheus."[14]


The planet Saturn is seen in approximate natural color by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI/NASA/ESA).

"Saturday is the day of Saturn, and the color of Saturn, according to astronomers, is said to be black"[16].

“Saturn has been known since prehistoric times.[17][18].

Apparently 5102 b2k (before the year 2000.0), -3102 or 3102 BC, is the historical year assigned to a Hindu table of planets that does include the classical planet Saturn.[4] "Babylonian astronomy, too, had a four-planet system. In ancient prayers the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury are invoked; ... and one speaks of "the four-planet system of the ancient astronomers of Babylonia."[19]"[20]

Babylonian astronomers systematically observed and recorded the movements of Saturn.[21][18].

“Ancient Chinese and Japanese culture designated the planet Saturn as the earth star[18].

“In ancient Hebrew, Saturn is called 'Shabbathai'.[22] Its angel is Cassiel. Its intelligence or beneficial spirit is Agiel (layga) and its spirit (darker aspect) is Zazel (lzaz).”[18].

“In Ottoman Turkish, Urdu and Malay, its name is 'Zuhal'”[18].

Anu may be an early Sumerian, Akkadian, and Babylonian name for Saturn.

"An, the oldest and highest of the Sumero-Babylonian gods, whose primordial age was "the year of abundance," signified Saturn, according to Jensen.6"[23]



"The potential cruelty of Saturn was enhanced by his identification with Cronus, known for devouring his own children. He was thus equated with the Carthaginian god Ba'al Hammon, to whom children were supposedly sacrificed. Saturn was also among the gods the Romans equated with Yahweh, whose Sabbath (on Saturday) he shared as his holy day."[24]

"Modern scholars identify [Baal-hamon] variously with the Northwest Semitic god El or with Dagon.[25]"[26]

"Ancient Greek writers identified him with the Titan Cronus. In ancient Rome, he was identified with Saturn"[26].



"The Hindu Brahma, Yama, Vishnu, and Manu converge as representatives of a solitary supreme god and creator governing a lost paradise as the first king, setting forth the first moral codes, and imparting to mankind the fundamentals of civilization."[18]



“The Greeks had made the outermost planet sacred to Cronus,[27] and the Romans followed suit.”[18].

"In the Canaanite religion, or Levantine religion as a whole, Ēl or Il was the supreme god, the father of humankind and all creatures and the husband of the goddess Asherah as recorded in the clay tablets of Ugarit ... The noun ʾēl was found at the top of a list of gods as the "Ancient of gods" or the "Father of all gods", in the ruins of the royal archive of the Ebla civilization, in the archaeological site of Tell Mardikh in Syria dated to 2300 BC."[28]

"Ēl (rendered Elus or called by his standard Greek counterpart Cronus) is not the creator god or first god. Ēl is rather the son of Sky and Earth."[28]

"Joseph Fontenrose first demonstrated that, whatever their deep origins, at Ugarit Dagon was identified with El,[29]"[30]


The gods Osiris, Anubis, and Horus are shown from a tomb painting. Credit: A. Parrot.
This is a detail of a frieze on a wall of tomb QV66, the burial place of Nefertari (c. 1295-1255 B.C.), royal wife of Ramesses the Great, featuring the Egyptian god Osiris. Credit: Mrgoodgame.

"Osiris is the mythological father of the god Horus, whose conception is described in the Osiris myth, a central myth in ancient Egyptian belief. The myth described Osiris as having been killed by his brother Seth, who wanted Osiris' throne. Isis joined the fragmented pieces of Osiris, but the only body part missing was the phallus. Isis fashioned a golden phallus, and briefly brought Osiris back to life by use of a spell that she learned from her father. This spell gave her time to become pregnant by Osiris before he again died. Isis later gave birth to Horus. As such, since Horus was born after Osiris' resurrection, Horus became thought of as a representation of new beginnings and the vanquisher of the evil Set."[31]

"The Phoenician El - Saturn - has four eyes, as does the Orphic Kronos (Saturn)."[23]

"The Chinese Yellow Emperor Huang-ti--identified as Saturn--is also four-eyed.74"[23]

"Osiris, as the Ram of Mendes, is the god of "four faces on one neck."62"[23]

Have observers recorded images of sky entities in the green?



Def. in Roman mythology, "[t]he legendary founder of Rome and the twin brother of Remus"[32] is called Romulus.

"Ioannes the Lydian, writing in the sixth century on the usage of his native town, says: 'Our own Philadelpheia still preserves a trace of the ancient belief. On the first day of the month (sc. January) there goes in procession no less a personage than Ianus himself, dressed up in a two-faced mask, and people call him Saturnus, identifying him with Kronos2.'"[33]

"The twins [Romulus and Remus], as in the case of Janus, attach themselves to the Universal Monarch as his two faces, looking in opposite directions."[23]



“In ancient Roman mythology, the god Saturnus, from which the planet takes its name, was the god of agriculture.[34] The Romans considered Saturnus the equivalent of the Greek god Cronus.[34][18].

“The Latins considered Saturn the predecessor of Jupiter. Saturn reigned in Latium during a mythical Golden Age reenacted every year at the festival of Saturnalia. Saturn also retained primacy in matters of agriculture and money. Unlike the Greek tradition of Cronus and Zeus, the usurpation of Saturn as king of the gods by Jupiter was not viewed by the Latins as violent or hostile; Saturn continued to be revered in his temple at the foot of the Capitol Hill, which maintained the alternative name Saturnius into the time of Varro.[35][36]


Cloud bands are clearly visible on Jupiter. Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS.

"[O]range [is] the color of Jupiter"[37].

5102 b2k, -3102 or 3102 BC, is the historical year assigned to a Hindu table of planets that does include the classical planet Jupiter.[4] "Babylonian astronomy, too, had a four-planet system. In ancient prayers the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury are invoked; ... and one speaks of "the four-planet system of the ancient astronomers of Babylonia."[19]"[20]

~2800 b2k: “The observation of Jupiter dates back to the Babylonian astronomers of the 7th or 8th century BC.[38] ... To the Babylonians, this object represented their god Marduk. They used the roughly 12-year orbit of this planet along the ecliptic to define the constellations of their zodiac.[39][40][41].

2362 b2k: “The Chinese historian of astronomy, Xi Zezong, has claimed that Gan De, a Chinese astronomer, made the discovery of one of Jupiter's moons in 362 BC with the unaided eye. ... The Chinese, Korean and Japanese referred to the planet as the wood star[41].

“The Greeks called it ... Phaethon, "blazing."”[41].



“In the Central Asian-Turkic myths, Jupiter called as a "Erendiz/Erentüz", which means "eren(?)+yultuz(star)". There are many theories about meaning of "eren". Also, these peoples calculated the orbit of Jupiter as 11 years and 300 days. They believed that some social and natural events connected to Erentüz's movements on the sky.[42][41].



“Hindu astrologers named the planet after Brihaspati, the religious teacher of the gods, and often called it "Guru", which literally means the "Heavy One."[43][41].



Thor [is] associated with the planet Jupiter in Germanic mythology.[44][41].



"In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus (Ancient Greek ... is the "Father of Gods and men" ... He is the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and Etruscan counterpart is Tinia. ... Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest of his siblings. In most traditions he is married to Hera, although, at the oracle of Dodona, his consort is Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione."[45]


This is a full-color image of Mercury from the first MESSENGER flyby. Credit: NASA/ Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Wednesday is the day of Mercury and its color varies blue/brown/black.[46]

5102 b2k, is the historical year assigned to a Hindu table of planets that does include the classical planet Mercury (or Hermes).[4] "Hermès observait en -1660; donc les Indiens observaient en -3102, et ils observaient bien!"[4] "Babylonian astronomy, too, had a four-planet system. In ancient prayers the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury are invoked; ... and one speaks of "the four-planet system of the ancient astronomers of Babylonia."[19]"[20]

~ 3300 b2k: “The earliest known recorded observations of Mercury are from the Mul.Apin tablets. These observations were most likely made by an Assyrian astronomer around the 14th century BC.[47] The cuneiform name used to designate Mercury on the Mul.Apin tablets is transcribed as Udu.Idim.Gu\u4.Ud ("the jumping planet").[48][49].

~2900 b2k: “Babylonian records of Mercury date back to the 1st millennium BC. The Babylonians called the planet Nabu after the messenger to the gods in their mythology.[50][49].

~2400 b2k: “The ancient Greeks of Hesiod's time knew the planet as (Stilbon), meaning "the gleaming", and (Hermaon).[51] Later Greeks called the planet Apollo when it was visible in the morning sky, and Hermes when visible in the evening. Around the 4th century BC, Greek astronomers came to understand that the two names referred to the same body.”[49].

“The Romans named the planet after the swift-footed Roman messenger god, Mercury (Latin Mercurius), which they equated with the Greek Hermes, because it moves across the sky faster than any other planet.[52][53][49].

"In ancient China, Mercury was known as Chen Xing (辰星), the Hour Star. It was associated with the direction north and the phase of water in the Wu Xing.[54] ... Hindu mythology used the name Budha for Mercury, and this god was thought to preside over Wednesday.[55] The god Odin (or Woden) of Germanic paganism was associated with the planet Mercury and Wednesday.[56] The Maya may have represented Mercury as an owl (or possibly four owls; two for the morning aspect and two for the evening) that served as a messenger to the underworld.[57]"[49]

"In my understanding Mercury was once a satellite of Jupiter, or possibly of Saturn. In the course of the events which followed Saturn’s interaction with Jupiter and its subsequent disruption, Mercury was pushed from its orbit and was directed to the sun by Jupiter. It could, however, have been a comet and the entwined snakes of the caduceus may memorialize the appearance it had when seen by the inhabitants of the Earth."[58]



"Enki ... is a god [dingir] in Sumerian mythology ... Beginning around the second millennium BCE [~4000 b2k], he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for "40," occasionally referred to as his "sacred number."[59][60][61] The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki."[62]



"Hermes ... Greek : Ἑρμῆς ... [is] son of Zeus and the Pleiade Maia. ... In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon ..., Hermes was identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, [is] inherited from the Etruscans ... The Thracian princes identified him with their god Zalmoxis, considering his ancestor.[63]"[64]



"Nabu (in Biblical Hebrew Nebo נבו) is the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, worshipped by Babylonians as the son of Marduk and his consort, Sarpanitum, and as the grandson of Ea."[65]

"In Chaldean mythology, Nebo was a god whose worship was introduced into Assyria by Pul [Tiglath-pileser III] (Isa. 46:1; Jer. 48:1). The great temple at Birs Nimrud was dedicated to Nebo."[66]



"The caduceus was an emblem of the Babylonian deity Ningishzida, and an astronomical tablet from Boghazkoi [Boghaz Keui, in Anatolia][20] identifies Ningishzida with Nebo-Mercury (Weidner, Handbuch der babylonischen Astronomie, p. 61[19])."[67]


This depiction of Thoth is as a baboon (c. 1400 BC [~3400 b2k]), in the British Museum. Credit: Steven G. Johnson.

"Thoth ... [in] the Greeks' interpretation ... was the same as their god Hermes) and ... [Shmounein] in the Coptic rendering. ... The Greeks related Thoth to their god Hermes due to his similar attributes and functions.[68] ... [Egyptian] mythology also credits him with the creation of the 365 day calendar. Originally, according to the myth, the year was only 360 days long and Nut was sterile during these days, unable to bear children. Thoth gambled with Khonsu, the Moon, for 1/72nd of its light (360/72 = 5), or 5 days, and won. During these 5 days, Nut gave birth to Kheru-ur (Horus the Elder, Face of Heaven), Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nepthys."[69]

"In the Ogdoad cosmogony, Thoth gave birth to Ra, Atum, Nefertum, and Khepri by laying an egg while in the form of an ibis, or later as a goose laying a golden egg."[69]

This is a visual image of the Sun with some sunspots visible. The two small spots in the middle have about the same diameter as our planet Earth. Credit: NASA.

The day of the Sun is Sunday and the color of the Sun is golden.[46]

Depending on Earth latitude, the Sun may pass overhead almost every day. The size of its disc is very close to that of the Moon.

5102 b2k, -3102 or 3102 BC, is the historical year assigned to a Hindu table of planets that does include the classical planet, the Sun.[4]

~3000 b2k: “In the early first millennium BCE, Babylonian astronomers observed that the Sun's motion along the ecliptic was not uniform”[70].

~2500 - 2428 b2k, c. 500 - 428 BC “[T]he Greek philosopher Anaxagoras ... reasoned that [the Sun] was a giant flaming ball of metal even larger than the Peloponnesus rather than the chariot of Helios, and that the Moon reflected the light of the Sun.[71][70]

~2300 b2k: “Eratosthenes estimated the distance between the Earth and the Sun in the 3rd century BCE as "of stadia myriads 400 and 80000", the translation of which is ambiguous, implying either 4,080,000 stadia (755,000 km) or 804,000,000 stadia (148 to 153 million kilometers or 0.99 to 1.02 AU); the latter value is correct to within a few percent. ... The theory that the Sun is the center around which the planets move was first proposed by the ancient Greek Aristarchus of Samos in the 3rd century BCE”[70]

"Regarding the fixed stars, the Sun appears from Earth to revolve once a year along the ecliptic through the zodiac, and so Greek astronomers considered it to be one of the seven planets (Greek planetes, "wanderer"), after which the seven days of the week are named in some languages.[72][73][74]"[70]

Chaos magno

This is an image of Chaos magnum from a book. Credit: Sailko.

The image at right is scanned from a book. The entity is Chaos magno, a primordial or first Greek god. The Commons category is "Intarsia of the choir of Santa Maria Maggiore (Bergamo)", dating from 1522-32.[75]

"For specific cosmogonic details the most important piece of Mesopotamian literature is the Babylonian epic story of creation, Enuma Elish (ibid., 60–72). Here, as in Genesis, the priority of water is taken for granted, i.e., the primeval chaos consisted of a watery abyss. The name for this watery abyss, part of which is personified by the goddess Tiamat, is the etymological equivalent of the Hebrew tehom (Gen. 1:2), a proper name that always appears in the Bible without the definite article. (It should be noted, however, that whereas "Tiamat" is the name of a primal generative force, tehom is merely a poetic term for a lifeless mass of water.) In both Genesis (1:6–7) and Enuma Elish (4:137–40) the creation of heaven and earth resulted from the separation of the waters by a firmament. The existence of day and night precedes the creation of the luminous bodies (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, and 14ff.; Enuma Elish 1:38)."[76]

"[T]he term chaos has been adopted in religious studies as referring to the primordial state before creation, strictly combining two separate notions of primordial waters or a primordial darkness from which a new order emerges and a primordial state as a merging of opposites, such as heaven and earth, which must be separated by a creator deity in an act of cosmogony.[77] In both cases, chaos refers to a notion of a primordial state contains the cosmos in potentia but needs to be formed by a demiurge before the world can begin its existence."[78]



"And Helios, lord of the sun, sitting Away from the other gods, sitting in his own temple And listening to prayers breathing up from men: he heard."[79]

"The Golden Age of Re was the age of An [Anu], Yama, or Kronos. One thus finds of interest an Egyptian ostrakon (first century B.C.) cited by Franz Boll: the ostrakon identifies the planet Saturn as the great god Re.4 ... [T]he expression "star of Helios" or "star of Sol" was applied to Saturn.5 Though the Greek Kronos was the Latin Saturn, Nonnus gives Kronos as the Arab name of the "sun." ... the Greek name Helios so closely resembles the Greek transliteration of the Phoenician El ... Plato (or his pupil Phillip of Opus ... gave the name Helios to Saturn."[23]


The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa, dated 1581 BC, records the observations of Babylonian astronomers. It refers to Venus as Nin-dar-an-na, or "bright queen of the sky". Credit: .

The day of the week for Venus is Friday and its color is white.[46]

5102 b2k, -3102 or 3102 BC, is the historical year assigned to a Hindu table of planets that does not include the classical planet Venus.[4] "Vénus seule ne s'y trouvait pas."[4] "Venus alone is not found there."[20] "Babylonian astronomy, too, had a four-planet system. In ancient prayers the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury are invoked; the planet Venus is missing; and one speaks of "the four-planet system of the ancient astronomers of Babylonia."[19]"[20]

“That the planet Venus is missing will not startle anybody who knows the eminent importance of the four-planet system in the Babylonian astronomy”[19] “Weidner supposes that Venus is missing in the list of planets because “she belongs to a triad with the moon and the sun.””[20]

3581 b2k: "The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa, dated 1581 BC, shows that the Babylonians understood that the two were a single object, referred to in the tablet as the "bright queen of the sky," and could support this view with detailed observations.[80]"[81]

"The Greeks thought of the two as separate stars, Phosphorus and Hesperus, until the time of Pythagoras in the sixth century BC.[82]"[81]

"The Romans designated the morning aspect of Venus as Lucifer, literally "Light-Bringer", and the evening aspect as Vesper"[81].

"During a rare period of very low density solar outflow, the ionosphere of Venus was observed to become elongated downstream, rather like a long-tailed comet. ... Under normal conditions, the solar wind has a density of 5 - 10 particles per cubic cm at Earth's orbit, but occasionally the solar wind almost disappears, as happened in May 1999. ... A rare opportunity to examine what happens when a tenuous solar wind arrives at Venus came 3 - 4 August 2010, following a series of large coronal mass ejections on the Sun. NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft, orbiting downstream from Venus, observed that the solar wind density at Earth's orbit dropped to the remarkably low figure of 0.1 particles per cubic cm and persisted at this value for an entire day."[83]

"The observations show that the night side ionosphere moved outward to at least 15 000 km from Venus' centre over a period of only a few hours," said Markus Fraenz, also from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, who was the team leader and a co-author of the paper.[83] "It may possibly have extended for millions of kilometres, like an enormous tail."[83]

"Although we cannot determine the full length of the night-side ionosphere, since the orbit of Venus Express provides limited coverage, our results suggest that Venus' ionosphere resembled the teardrop-shaped ionosphere found around comets, rather than the more symmetrical, spherical shape which usually exists."[83]

"The side of Venus' ionosphere that faces away from the sun can billow outward like the tail of a comet, while the side facing the star remains tightly compacted, researchers said. ... "As this significantly reduced solar wind hit Venus, Venus Express saw the planet’s ionosphere balloon outwards on the planet’s ‘downwind’ nightside, much like the shape of the ion tail seen streaming from a comet under similar conditions," ESA officials said in a statement today (Jan. 29). It only takes 30 to 60 minutes for the planet's comet-like tail to form after the solar wind dies down. Researchers observed the ionosphere stretch to at least 7,521 miles (12,104 kilometers) from the planet, said Yong Wei, a scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Katlenburg, Germany who worked on this research."[84]


Mars is imaged from Hubble Space Telescope on October 28, 2005, with dust storm visible. Credit: NASA, ESA, The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (Cornell University) and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute).

"La couleur rouge sang caractéristique de Mars lui valut dans l’Antiquité le rapprochement avec le dieu grec de la guerre Arès puis avec son équivalent romain Mars, le rouge évoquant le sang des champs de bataille. Les Babyloniens la nommaient Nirgal ou Nergal, le dieu de la mort, des destructions et du feu. Les Égyptiens la nommaient « Horus rouge » (ḥr Dšr, Hor-desher) et connaissaient son « déplacement à reculons » (actuellement connu sous le nom de mouvement rétrograde). Dans la mythologie hindoue, Mars est nommée Mangala (मंगल) du nom du dieu de la guerre. Mangala Vallis est nommé en son honneur."[85]

Tuesday is the day of the week for Mars and its color is red.[46]

5102 b2k is the historical year assigned to a Hindu table of planets that does not include the classical planet Venus.[4] "Vénus seule ne s'y trouvait pas."[4] Mars is mentioned.[4] "Babylonian astronomy, too, had a four-planet system. In ancient prayers the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury are invoked; ... and one speaks of "the four-planet system of the ancient astronomers of Babylonia."[19]"[20]

~3534 b2k “The existence of Mars as a wandering object in the night sky was recorded by the ancient Egyptian astronomers and by 1534 BCE they were familiar with the retrograde motion of the planet.[86][87].

~3458 b2k "Mars was portrayed on the ceiling of the tomb of Seti I and on the Ramesseum ceiling, though it was missing from the Senenmut star map [ Hatshepsut reigned (1479 BC – 1458 BC)]. In the latter case, the planet may have been in conjunction with the Sun.[88]"[89]

3045 b2k "Chinese records about the appearances and motions of Mars appear from before the founding of the Zhou Dynasty (1045 BCE),"[89].

ca. 2626 b2k “By the period of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the Babylonian astronomers were making regular records of the positions of the planets and systematic observations of their behavior. For Mars, they knew that the planet made 37 synodic periods, or 42 circuits of the zodiac, every 79 years. They also invented arithmetic methods for making minor corrections to the predicted positions of the planets.[90][91][87].

~2400 b2k: “Literature from ancient China confirms that Mars was known by Chinese astronomers by no later than the fourth century BCE.[92][87].

~2300 b2k: “In the fourth century BCE, Aristotle noted that Mars disappeared behind the Moon during an occultation, indicating the planet was farther away.[93][87].

2221 b2k "Chin Dynasty (221 BCE) astronomers maintained close records of planetary conjunctions, including those of Mars."[89]


These images show the libration of the Moon over a single lunar month. Credit: Tomruen.

Monday is the day of the week for the Moon and its color is white.[46]

5102 b2k, is the historical year assigned to a Hindu table of planets that does include the classical planet, the Moon.[4]

~2500 b2k: “Understanding of the Moon's cycles was an early development of astronomy: by the 5th century BC, Babylonian astronomers had recorded the 18-year Saros cycle of lunar eclipses,[94][95]

Indian astronomers had described the Moon’s monthly elongation.[96][95]

“The Chinese astronomer Shi Shen (fl. 4th century BC) gave instructions for predicting solar and lunar eclipses.[97] ... Although the Chinese of the Han Dynasty believed the Moon to be energy equated to qi, their 'radiating influence' theory also recognized that the light of the Moon was merely a reflection of the Sun, and Jing Fang (78–37 BC) noted the sphericity of the Moon.[97][95]

“Later, the physical form of the Moon and the cause of moonlight became understood. The ancient Greek philosopher Anaxagoras (d. 428 BC) reasoned that the Sun and Moon were both giant spherical rocks, and that the latter reflected the light of the former.[98][97][95]



""Foam-born" Aphrodite is linked to the Moon through her epithet Pasiphaessa, the 'All-shinig One'. In Hesiod's Theogony, Aphrodite was conceived in the lap of the waves which were fertilized by semen from the severed genitals of Ouranos, Heaven, and was 'born in soft foam', as the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite puts it.71"[99]


This is an image of the planet Uranus taken by the spacecraft Voyager 2 in 1986. Credit: NASA/JPL/Voyager mission.
This is an image of a painting by artist Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574). Credit: Dodo Vasari.

“In the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese languages, the planet's name is literally translated as the sky king star[100][101][102].

Uranus ... is named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus ..., the father of Cronus (Saturn) and grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter). Though it is visible to the naked eye like the five classical planets, it was never recognized as a planet by ancient observers because of its dimness and slow orbit.[103][102]

The second image at right is a painting by artist Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574). The main focus is on Cronus (Saturn) castrating Uranus (the Greek sky god). As both Uranus and Cronus are represented by men, this suggests that they were similar in nature. "[T]he ancients’ religions and mythology speak for their knowledge of Uranus; the dynasty of gods had Uranus followed by Saturn, and the latter by Jupiter. ... It is quite possible that the planet Uranus is the very planet known by this name to the ancients. The age of Uranus preceded the age of Saturn; it came to an end with the “removal” of Uranus by Saturn. Saturn is said to have emasculated his father Uranus."[104]



“Uranus was the Sky in Greek mythology, which was thought to be dominated by the combined powers of the Sun and Mars.[105][102]

Uranus ... , Ouranos meaning "sky" or "heaven") was the primal Greek god personifying the sky. His equivalent in Roman mythology was Caelus. In Ancient Greek literature, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth. According to Hesiod's Theogony, Uranus was conceived by Gaia alone, but other sources cite Aether as his father.[106][107]


Caelus appears at the top of the cuirass of the Augustus of Prima Porta, counterposed to Earth at the bottom. Credit: Sailko.

Caelus or Coelus was a primal god of the sky in Roman myth and theology, iconography, and literature (compare caelum, the Latin word for "sky" or "the heavens", hence English "celestial").”[108]

“The name of Caelus indicates that he was the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Uranus ..., who was of major importance in the theogonies of the Greeks. Varro couples him with Terra (Earth) as pater and mater (father and mother), and says that they are "great deities" (dei magni) in the theology of the mysteries at Samothrace.[35][108]

“According to Cicero and Hyginus, Caelus was the son of Aether and Dies ("Day" or "Daylight").[109] Caelus and Dies were in this tradition the parents of Mercury.[110] Caelus was the father with Hecate of the distinctively Roman god Janus, as well as of Saturn and Ops.[111] Caelus was also the father of one of the three forms of Jupiter, the other two fathers being Aether and Saturn.[112][108]


This image shows a detail from the Parabiago plate depicting Aion. Credit: Giovanni Dall'Orto.

"Aion (Greek Αἰών) is a Hellenistic deity associated with time, the orb or circle encompassing the universe, and the zodiac. The "time" represented by Aion is unbounded, in contrast to Chronos as empirical time divided into past, present, and future.[113] He is thus a god of eternity, associated with mystery religions concerned with the afterlife, such as the mysteries of Cybele, Dionysus, Orpheus, and Mithras. In Latin the concept of the deity may appear as Aevum or Saeculum.[114] He is typically in the company of an earth or mother goddess such as Tellus or Cybele, as on the Parabiago plate.[115]"[116] The picture at page right top is of Aion-Uranus.


This picture from the Voyager 2 sequence shows two of the four cloud features which have been tracked by the Voyager cameras during the past two months. Credit: NASA.

“Neptune is never visible to the naked eye, having a brightness between magnitudes +7.7 and +8.0,[117][118][119].

Neptune ... was the Roman god of water and the sea[120] in Roman mythology and religion. He is the counterpart of the Greek god Poseidon. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter [Italic Neptune has been securely identified as a god of freshwater sources as well as the sea.][120][121].

Syncretic traces of a Lybian/Punic agrarian god of fresh water sources, with the epithet Frugifer, "fruit-bearer"; have been enumerated”[122][121].

The “German scholar H. Petersmann proposed an etymology from IE rootstem *nebh- related to clouds and foggs ... The concept would be close to that expressed in the name of Greek god [Uranus].”[121]

“Indo-European people, having no direct knowledge of the sea as they originated from inland areas, reused the theology of a deity originally either chthonic or wielding power over inland freshwaters as the god of the sea.[123] This feature has been preserved particularly well in the case of Neptune who was definitely a god of springs, lakes and rivers before becoming also a god of the sea, as is testified by the numerous findings of inscriptions mentioning him in the proximity of such locations. Servius the grammarian also explicitly states Neptune is in charge of all the rivers, springs and waters.[124][121]

"I find it most useful to refer to the eight planets Mercury through Neptune as the "classical planets"."[125] "By restricting the new definition to the eight existing “classical planets,” the second resolution implied that dwarf planets were a subcategory of planets, too."[126]


Ceres is seen by the Hubble Space Telescope (ACS). The contrast has been enhanced to reveal surface details. Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Parker (Southwest Research Institute), P. Thomas (Cornell University), and L. McFadden (University of Maryland, College Park).

“When Ceres has an opposition near the perihelion, it can reach a visual magnitude of +6.7.[127] This is generally regarded as too dim to be seen with the naked eye, but under exceptional viewing conditions a very sharp-sighted person may be able to see this dwarf planet.”[128]

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Further reading


{{Astronomy resources}} {{History of science resources}} {{Principles of radiation astronomy}}