The Beauty of Venus

Fact File:


12,140 km

Distance to Sun: 0.7 AU

Solar Orbit:

225 days

No of Moons: 0

Venus weaves a pattern of perfect harmony and beauty. Seen from the Earth it forms a lovely mandala every eight years, a pentagram pattern at its core. Let's start off with the synodic cycle of Venus. That is 18-19 months, and this is how long it takes between Venus becoming the shining Evening Star. It's the cycle that we experience, of its appearances and disappearances, whereby it alternates between being the Evening Star that sets in the West and the morning Star that rises in the East. Hesperus and Lucifer were the old names for these two aspects of Venus.


The patterns on the left show five of these synodic periods of Venus. They weave together the pattern of the rose. Earth is in the centre, and as it comes nearest to us it makes its loops in the sky and temporarily goes backwards. That is called its retrograde motion. It moves backwards against the zodiac for about forty days. It only goes retrograde for 7% of its time, which is less than that for any other planet. So, not many people are born with Venus retrograde. But, we don't see it going retrograde in the sky. We can't see it, because that is when it is close to the Sun. As the Evening Star is dying into the sunset, just before it fades from view, it starts to go retrograde.

Let's quote John Martineau, who has a knack of putting these things simply:


'What is so beautiful is that every time Venus is

 closest to us, when she is between us and the sun,

 she is precisely two-fifths of the way round the

 heavens from the last  place she came close.'


In each such conjunction Sun-Venus-Earth i.e. when she is closest to Earth, Venus moves round two-fifths, then after five of them a pentagram is woven in the sky. This pattern in woven in an eight-year period, within a couple of days. Earth and Venus have quite closely circular orbits, that of Venus being the least elliptical in the solar system, and this makes their patterns very symmetrical. If we divide Venus' synodic period by that of Earth's year it gives φ the golden ratio (or the 'Divine proportion', 1.681), to within half a percent - as likewise does the Earth-year period divided by that of the Venus-year, to within about one percent.

An 8-year pattern links Earth, Sun and Venus. Joining heliocentric positions of Earth and Venus at regular intervals with straight lines also (see figure on the left) gives a similar image (Quite how this works, does tend to elude me). These different frames of reference thus give the same pattern, of Venus' five synodic cycles per eight Earth-years; from which it follows, that thirteen Venus-years elapse per eight Earth-years. Take a while to mull over these things. 

On June 7th, 2004, a transit of Venus happened, at 18° Gemini in the zodiac (1). Four years later Venus will again conjunct the sun on June 8th at 18° Gemini. Every four years, Sun-Venus conjunctions recur in time and space. This is the beautiful synchrony that Venus gives us. Thereby she weaves a pentagram in the sky every eight years; because the same applies to the superior conjunctions, we have a double pentagram woven around Earth, one pentagram of superior conjunctions being about six times larger than the other, and the two are in phase. Every four years, there are five solar conjunctions that move once round a pentagon, and they alternate as superior and inferior conjunctions. These two wonderful pentagrams revolve slowly against the stars, once per twelve centuries. The geometrical shape of the pentagram contains the 'golden ratio' more fully than any other. 

The 'day' of Venus was discovered in the 1960s, using a radio telescope: it was able to peer through the dense mists of Venus's atmosphere. The planets all revolve in the same direction as they revolve around the Sun, anticlockwise - except only for Venus, which has a 'backward' rotation on its axis. It goes in the reverse direction to all others. Thus, Venus revolves backwards, and does so more slowly than that of any other planet. Its axial-rotation period is longer than its year.


It thereby generates the remarkable ratio whereby, in its eight-year period, it rotates twelve times on its axis. This rhythm causes the same face to orient earthwards at each solar conjunction, both at superior and inferior conjunctions.


During each synodic interval, Venus experiences just five days (5.001 to be exact). If we call a Venus Earth-day the interval between successive Earthrises, there are just four of them over this interval. This means that, per synodic cycle, Venus experiences five sunrises and four earthrises. By pondering these things, we begin to experience the profound music and harmony of Venus. To appreciate these matters, one should spend a while contemplating the Evening Star, hovering above sunset's turquoise glow.

Above: two years of Venus's motion, with Earth at the centre, showing points at which the same part of Venus is facing earthwards.

Venus becomes most brilliant in the sky as Evening Star a month after its 'maximum elongation,' when it has risen highest in the sky and stands at its greatest distance from the Sun (37 degrees). The 'Phosphorus' or Morning Star was more strident and associated with Nike the goddess of Victory, while the Evening Star had the gentle and amorous reputation. We should try to live with the Venus-cycle in its coming and goings as did the ancients. It remains visible for some 263 days as Evening Star before dying into the sunset, and this is the average period of human gestation. Six months after appearing as Evening Star, Venus reaches its greatest elongation, then a month later it grows to maximum brilliance, then two weeks later it stations (stops moving along the zodiac) then goes retrograde, and another two weeks later it dies into the sunset. Two weeks after that it reappears as the Morning Star, still going retrograde. There are potent dualities here between morning and evening, East or West, in front of the Sun or behind it, visible or invisible, direct or retrograde. The most fortunate and celebrated time of the cycle for the ancient Chaldeans was its heliacally-rising appearance, just before dawn. Plan for that enchanting cocktail-party you meant to have, when Venus will be most brilliant. 

Far below the boiling, sulphuric acid clouds of Venus' dense atmosphere, there lies a tortured, hellish landscape.


Venus - Periods


Synodic - 583.9 days, Axial rotation - 243 days,

Sidereal (i.e. its year) - 224.7 days,

Day - 116.8  Earth days

(1) - Transits of Venus recur with clockwork regularity over a 243.006-year interval: four of them turn up every 243 years and two days. This period, in years, closely resembles Venus' axial rotation period of 243.018 days. Is this 'mere' chance, or is it more like what Kepler meant by his Harmonices Mundi, the world-harmony?

To appreciate the wonderful harmonies involved in Venus' motion - and it has more than any other planet - take a look at the four following examples. Or click here for an animation showing how it weaves its pentagram

Venus's Eight Halos

In which eight touching circles define Earth's orbit from Venus's

In the same way that three touching circles emanating from Mercury's mean orbit produce Venus's mean orbit, if eight touching circles are drawn from Venus's mean orbit then the circumcircle enclosing these eight circles defines Earth's mean orbit with over 99.9% accuracy. Try building the shapes out of coins using three modern ten pence pieces to show the Mercury-Venus proportion, and eight one pence pieces for the Venus-Earth proportion; the centres of the eight one penny coins should lie on a circle around the three ten penny coins. The Royal Mint sadly does not quite produce two coins in the 6120:5040 ratio required but these are near enough for the human eye.

Note on accuracy from Nick Kollerstrom: Here the equation is E/Ve = 1 + sin (п/8). Taking the mean radii of Earth and Venus as 1 and 0.72333, the agreement is within a staggering 99.99% - an entire order of magnitude greater than JM has claimed!  

The Kiss of Venus

Earth and Venus at their Remotest and Closest

For convenience Venus is here placed in the centre (points of view for nearest - furthest diagrams are interchangeable). Venus makes a complete orbit of the Sun every 225 days, as opposed to our 365. As we watch her from Earth, she never strays farther than 46° from the Sun as it moves through the zodiac over a year. Both planets have near circular orbits and Venus closes the space between her and us from a maximum of 261 million km to a minimum of 38 million km and, remarkably, this proportion can be solved by nesting two pentagrams with well over 99.9% accuracy. The proportion thus defined is equal to four compounded golden section divisions. 

Marital Bliss

In which the realm of Earth & Venus is taken as a single space with a simple geometry 

Earth and Venus are so very happy together that it is their whole combined space which exhibits the simplest harmony. Between Earth's greatest distance from the Sun and Venus's closest approach to the Sun lies the total realm of Earth & Venus, or their home. A single square proportions this region with 99.9% accuracy. The square was generally associated with Earth, the City or the home, and since it here embraces Earth's relationship with Venus, amongst other interpretations it may be thought of as alluding to the sacred institution of marriage. Both Earth and Venus are traditionally female so in fact a better title might have been Blood Sisters, alluding to the earthy connection between women. 

Image is (c) John Martineau

Love on Earth

Which is another way of spacing Venus and Earth 

A circle is drawn which represents Venus's mean orbit. A pentagram is constructed inside it and a small circle placed through the arm-crossing points. The radius of this small circle divides the radius of the larger into the golden section and can be used to space Venus's orbit to Earth's orbit, again with 99.9% accuracy. Although this is slightly less accurate, and a little more complicated than the diagram immediately above, it is included here to show the ever present agreement between eight-fold and five-fold geometries. 

Image is (c) John Martineau