(This was written some years ago for Lotus Realm Magazine under the title “The Great Wonder – Science and the Universe” Not my first title choice but nice to get it published. If you enjoy the article you’ll enjoy the books I’ve referenced at the end even more!)
After the sun has set, there is a very bright star visible just now in the western sky. Some years ago, when I was in India, I saw the same star setting westwards over the Arabian Sea. It was followed by a red star moving in the same westerly direction but setting much later. What are these bright stars? The one which is setting soon after the sun just now is Venus. ‘She’ is the goddess of love – beautiful, powerful, and sometimes jealous. Behind her across the Indian sky came red Mars called the God of War by the ancient Greeks. Another bright star in the Indian sky is Abhijit, Victorious, who helped the Hindu gods to conquer the asuras. (ref 1) Arabian sky-watchers called it Vega. Two more bright stars, one white and the other yellow, have been very noticeable for most of the past year if you live in the northern hemisphere at a latitude of about 65 degrees north. If you are a regular sky-watcher you’ll have noticed that they are not so bright as they were
last year and you’ll also know that they have been tracking across the sky relative to the other stars and that they weren’t there at all a couple of years ago. And these
two other stars? They are Jupiter, father of all these gods, and Saturn, the old god
whom Jove/Jupiter overturned to take the throne.