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The Question

(Submitted December 05, 1996)

Well, I've searched the net quite a bit and was hoping you could help me out in some manner or way. I am trying to find out who discovered Venus and when it was discovered...and how it was discovered, whether telescope, naked eye or such. I do hope that you may be able to help me out in some way and would appreciate any information you might have in this subject. Thank you very much.

The Answer

It depends on what you mean by discover. Because Venus is so bright, the first caveman who went outside at dusk or dawn surely noticed it. The ancient Greeks knew enough about it to know that it was different from other "stars". Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were also known to the ancients. This probably includes among many others the Chinese, Babylonian, and early American cultures which were relatively sophisticated.

Galileo in 1610 was first to observe that Venus had a visible disk and that it had phases like the moon so perhaps he could be considered to have discovered the modern Venus. Captain James Cook made observations of a "Transit of Venus" in 1776-1779.

Steve Snowden
for Imagine the Universe!

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