If you stay suspended in the space above our planet for many years, you get to see the pattern in the diagram.
This computer simulation shows the changing distances between Earth and Venus over many years. The tiny object in the center represents the Earth. The movement of Venus relative to Earth is represented by the pattern around it.
I was motivated to generate this plot with an astronomy program called “The Voyager” (Carina Software) after I learned that our ancient sky-watching ancestors associated the planet Venus with five-petal flowers. One of these flowers is called Venus’ Looking Glass.
Flower power. This computer simulation shows the changing distances between Earth and Venus over many years. The tiny object in the center represents Earth, and the movement of Venus relative to Earth is represented by the pattern around it.
My computer simulation allowed me to suspend myself in the space above our Earth’s North Pole. Then I told The Voyager to plot the changing distances between Earth and Venus as they orbit the sun.
You may remember that Venus is closer to the Sun than we are, so when she’s orbiting between us and the sun, she’s much closer to us than when she’s orbiting behind the Sun from our perspective.
The five-petal-flower pattern emerges after eight of our Earth-years.
The computer plot shows the Earth-Venus relationship over the course of many years, which is why you see many lines plotted on top of each other. Even though Earth isn’t stationary, it’s mathematically possible—and accurate—for us to imagine she’s stationary for purposes of measuring and mapping the changing distances between Earth and Venus.
If this five-petal flower pattern has you wondering about our ancient sky-watching ancestors, you can rest assured that you’re not the only one who’s wondering!
If you’d like to see Venus, just look west soon after sunset and you’ll see her outshining the stars.