Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hide & seek by this wandering star - the Venus!

In my childhood I wondered and was also attracted towards many things. One such thing is today's topic. Before sun rise, I found often a brighter and bigger star shining on the clear dark sky. It enchanted me much. On some other days I found it missing. I wondered again where it had gone. On inquiring elders, I was informed about its name - Morning Star ('Vidi velli' in Tamil). But I could not get its whereabouts.
Later in my higher classes I learned that it is not a star but a planet, the Venus, that encircles the Sun. It never twinkled. Its whereabouts: as it is an inner planet in the Solar system, it lies in its orbit next to that of our Earth inwards, and towards the Sun. Let us imagine a little about this: assume yourself (lying down with your head in the North and facing the East) seeing Venus orbit in its edge-on-view; now, as time moves on we see first in front of us the lone Venus (revolving around the Sun) in its orbit, just before dawn; next, as day breaks we don't 'see' it rise up overhead and go behind us like that done usually by Sun - it disappears before the sun rise itself! It is never seen again till tomorrow before dawn. Where the Venus has gone now? Actually, it is still there in the sky in front of the Sun; but Sun's bright rays glares out its presence with it. This explains its presence there and its travel with the Sun.

Now, coming to about its absence before dawn - on some days: Venus revolves around the Sun; so, it goes around it towards its back (behind) in its own circular orbit; thus it has moved now from the front of Sun to its back. So, before dawn in the East we don't see Venus. As time moves on, Sun rises first; then Venus follows the Sun, rising at the horizon after the sun rise; but we cannot see this event also - due to glaring out of its presence by the Sun's bright light.
O.K. On some days, I also found that there is also another such bright and bigger star at the evening sky, after sunset. What could it be, this so called Evening Star? Again, is it a star or a planet? It is nothing but the same planet, our Venus, that was missing at dawn on that day, revealing its presence behind the Sun now!
Did we forget about another such inner planet, the Mercury? Why doesn't it show up itself like Venus? Mercury does also the same as Venus; but as it is much closer to the Sun, we could see it only for a shorter time, that too near the horizon at dawn or dusk.
Really the ways of Nature are wonderful in showing up these wonder nature of these 'wandering stars', the planets!

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