The Planet Venus



This book is not so much for the space scientist looking for background material for research as it is for one interested in the history of planetary exploration. The first half (∼100 pps) is devoted to studies of Venus before the space age, starting at several hundred years BC. It is obvious from the multitude of detailed descriptions of observers' accounts that considerable library research went into this section. While sometimes tedious, this chronology of Venus research is punctuated with amusing facts. While many may know about the Velikovsky theory of the cometary origin of the planet, few may know that Lowell drew pictures of Cytherian canals similar to the canals of Mars or that Frederick the Great of Prussia proposed to name the (once suspected) satellite of Venus D'Alembert, after the mathematician. An equally amusing appendix shows the ups and downs of the rotation period of this planet with the invisible surface. Much attention is focused on early telescope observations, the ashen light, and transits of Venus. At the end of this half, one appreciates that Venus has played a fairly important role in history in the areas of religion, science, and technology.