Venus is a planet of paradox. No other planet comes closer to or appears larger or brighter—but your telescope will show you nothing of its surface, thanks to a veil of globe-girdling clouds.
Venus was well known
to the ancients. The
Greeks believed it was two distinct objects: Phosphoros in the morning sky and Hesperos in the evening.
The Maya saw Venus as the god Kukulkan, a figure who symbolized the death and rebirth of the universe. They based a complex 418-year calendar on the observation that in the space of eight years, Venus makes five complete apparitions. To the Aztecs, several centuries later, Venus was Quetzalcoat, the feathered serpent who symbolized the power of life emerging from earth, water, and sky.