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Medieval Certificate

Term 1 Lecture 2

Venus Cycle

Venus - Medieval Astrology

Bernadette Brady

Venus was the astronomical object of greatest interest. I think it possible that the Maya knew it better than any civilization outside Mesoamerica. They thought it was more important than the Sun. They watched it carefully as it moved through its stations--it takes 584 days for Venus and the Earth to line up in their previous position as compared to the Sun. It takes about 2922 days for the Earth, Venus, the Sun, and the stars to agree. The pattern of Venus is usually reckoned at Inferior Conjunction, that time when Venus passes between the Sun and the Earth. A diagram of this situation can be seen on the left. During this period, Venus cannot be seen from Earth. It disappears for a short period that averages 8 days. When it first rises after inferior conjunction, that is when it was first spotted in the morning sky, called heliacal rising because it is rising with the sun, was the most important position of Venus. Text from: .www.michielb.nl/maya/venus.html

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The above charts are for the Inferior Conjunction and the Elongation of the Morning Star that occurs 2 months and 11 days from Inferior conjunction. It then stays the Morning Star for an additional 7 months and 11 days, until it reaches its Superior conjunction with the Sun. In all Venus disappears from view for about 8 days around

the inferior conjunction and is then visible as the Morning Star for 9 months and some days. After rising, Venus will reach its greatest brilliancy then it greatest elongation west, moving quickly (in retrograde motion) away from the Sun. After that it will remain visible for about 260 days in the morning sky until it reaches superior conjunction.

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Superior Conjunct of Sun and Venus disappears for about 50 days then re appears as the Evening Star It will then be the Evening Star for about 9 months before it returns to its Inferior Conjunction. At this point Venus is on the opposite side of the Sun as we view it from Earth. It becomes dim, until it dips back under the horizon, only to appear on the opposite side of the sun an average of 50 days later. It then rises as a evening star and remain in the night sky about 260 days until it goes through its eastern elongation point and greatest brilliancy before arriving at Inferior Conjunction again. The Maya made daytime observations of Venus. Venus had a psychological effect upon the Maya and other Mesoamerican cultures, it has been shown that the Maya were timing some of their wars based on the stationary points of Venus and Jupiter. Humans were sacrificed on first appearance after Superior Conjunction when Venus was at its dimmest magnitude but they most feared the first Heliacal Rising after Inferior Conjunction. In the Dresden Codex, the Maya had an almanac that displayed the full cycle of Venus. They counted five sets of 584 days, that is 2,920 days is approximately 8 years or 5 repetitions of the Venus cycle. From.. http://www.michielb.nl/maya/venus.html
April, 2002

VENUS RISING: A VIEW TO THE EAST A view to the east from a high point overlooking water provides excellent conditions for spotting the first fleeting reappearance of Venus rising after a 50 day absence from the skies. This rising marks the start of a new 260 day orbital cycle. Such a high angle of view slightly prolongs the planet's first brief appearance before it is lost in the rays of the Sun dawning behind it. A temple of Venus built by Greek colonists at Tyndaris in Sicily is dramatically located on a cliff above the sea so as to capture this effect. The Sumerian city of Eridu was dedicated to Venus and the view across its harbor was similarly to the east where Venus' cyclical first appearance was easy to see. VENUS SETTING: THE WESTERN WALL In Central America, the Mayan ruler Eighteen Rabbit preferred to observe Venus setting in the west. At Copan in what is now Honduras, he had a wall built with a slot in it to isolate a view of the planet's descent so as to time a moment in the Venus cycle when he liked to attack his enemies. His son, Smoke Monkey, preferred a different planetary signal for warfare, and so he had his father's Venus-observation slot blocked up. www.luckymojo.com/drawingdownsky.html April 2002

Enuma Anu Enlil


An astrological omen series comprising some 68 tablets. The tablets themselves were found in the Assyrian king Assurbanipal's library in the ancient city of Nineveh (modern Tell Kuyunjik, Iraq), and were written in the 7th century BC. However, evidence suggests the collection of omens is much older than the tablets found in the library, and the original series probably dates back to the Old Babylonian period at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. The EAE deals mostly with the constellations, or "fixed" stars, and, to a lesser degree, with the planets. The exception to this is tablet 63, known as the "Venus Tablets of Ammizaduga". It was composed under king Ammizaduga who ruled Babylon from 1646 to 1626 BC. Several copies of tablet 63 have been recovered in varying degrees of preservation, but a composite of these reveal the tablet to be a record of rising and setting dates for the planet Venus over a period of 21 years. As with EAE as a whole, the "Venus Tablets" also contain omens. The structure of each particular omen in EAE is the same as that used for omen texts in general. Each omen can be divided into two parts: (1) the protasis, a description of the celestial phenomenon and (2) the apodosis, the repercussions the phenomenon given in the protasis will have on the terrestrial world. Occasionally there is also a commentary on the protasis giving an alternate star or planet, or an explanation of the phenomenon described.(Reiner, 1; 24-5). http://www.astronomy.pomona.edu/archeo/outside/primary.html