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No. 9: Winter 1979

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Venus and earth: engaged or divorced?

Proponents of astronomical catastrophism have made much of the supposed resonance between the earth and Venus, in which Venus rotates exactly four times between the times of its closest approach to earth (inferior conjunction). Astronomers have maintained that the gravitational forces are too slight to force a resonance lock. This has led to speculation that the two planets were once much closer. The most recent measurements of the rotational period of Venus show it to be 243.01 days rather than the 243.16 days for exact resonance. I.I. Shapiro (of MIT) and his colleagues, who made the measurements, wonder whether Venus may be just approaching or just escaping a resonance lock. Whichever the case, the near-resonance is not likely to be a coincidence.

(Anonymous; "Venus and Earth: Engaged or Divorced?" Astronomy, 7:58, October 1979.)

Comment. If Venus is just escaping resonance lock, how long ago was the lock exact? A few thousand years? And how close were the two planets?

Reference. The solar system is full of curious resonances. See ABB4 in our Catalog: The Sun and Solar System Debris. This book is described here.

From Science Frontiers #9, Winter 1979. 1979-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987