- Ars Animalis: Looking at animals throughout the history of art
- Women's History Month: Remembering 22 women in science
- Purity Month: Looking at 100%
- Instead of This, Try This: Starting the new year with change
- Victory Month: Celebrating positive change through grassroots action
- Of Rice and Men: Cooking the world's most important grain for human nutrition
- 21 Days, 21 Reasons, 21 Recipes, 21 Quotes: Eating plants, loving animals
- Rich Dog, Poor Dog: Considering man's best friend
- Physicists & Priests: Looking at the relationship of science and religion
- Deep Space: Staring at the stars
- Gray Matters: Thinking about thinking
- Flower Power: Stopping to smell the angiosperms
- Animal Cruelty: Looking at the devil within
- Chemical Month: Exploring the vast laboratory of our daily lives
- Africa Month: Visiting the world's second-largest continent
- Reports from 2050: Imagining the future
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Mistress of the Heavens
The ancient Babylonians gazed at Venus; they called her Nindaranna
[On June 5, 2012, Venus passed directly between the Earth and the Sun, a rare astronomical phenomenon known as the "Transit of Venus" that will occur again in 105 years. This month, 13.7 Billion Years considers "Earth's twin," from the scientific study of the planet to its mythological underpinnings, with the series Second Rock from the Sun.]
Sometime around the middle of the 17th century BCE, during the reign of King Ammisaduqa (the fourth ruler after Hammurabi), Babylonian astronomers started compiling a record of their observations of Venus, what they called Nindaranna, which means "Mistress of the Heavens."
Part of Enuma anu enlil ("In the days of Anu and Enlil"), an astrological text consisting primarily of celestial phenomena interpreted as omens, the so-called "Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa" records Venus's first and last visibility on the horizon before or after sunrise and sunset over the course of 21 years.
The earliest known copy is a 7th century BCE cuneiform tablet that was recovered from the library at Nineveh. Currently in the collection of the British Museum, it is the oldest surviving astronomical planetary text and helped to lay down the foundations of Western astrology.