A new image captures two planets with ancient significance hovering over the famous old city of Rome on Sunday (May 1).
Venus and Jupiter shined together through the clouds in the image taken by Gianluca Masi, who conducts live astronomical broadcasts for the Virtual Telescope Project.
He spotted the duo in the morning sky during a conjunction or close approach in the sky. Conjunctions happen from time to time, because the eight official planets orbit in the ecliptic, the plane of our solar system.
“Thin clouds made it possible to see a wonderful colored corona around Venus, due to
to the diffraction of its light by tiny individual water droplets,” Masi said in an email. He also saw some Jovian moons, with Europa, Ganymede and Callisto visible around Jupiter, she said.
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There are records of ancient Romans worshiping both Venus and Jupiter, according to Britannica. Imperial Rome developed from about 31 B.C. C. and 476 d. C., with a period of republicanism for five centuries before.
Capitoline Jupiter, atop Capitoline Hill, was the oldest known temple of the chief pagan deity, Britannica wrote. “Here was a tradition of the sacred tree of him, the oak,” says the encyclopedia. “Siliceous lapides, pebbles or flint stones, were also kept here, which were used in symbolic ceremonies by the fetiales, the Roman priests who officially declared war or signed treaties on behalf of the Roman state.”
Venus was identified with the goddess Aphrodite at some point during the Republican era, especially through the famous cult (religious branch) of Venus Erycina imported from nearby Sicily, Britannica said.
A temple to the goddess was dedicated in Rome in 215 BC. C., during the Second Punic War that finally saw the defeat of the iconic Carthaginian general Hannibal. Publius Cornelius Scipio — the general who led the Romans at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC. C. — received the nickname “Scipio Africanus” after his victory.
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