That’s Venus up there in the sky, all 864º of it (that’s in Fahrenheit, folks). Venus, currently an evening star, is sometimes called Earth’s twin, though I don’t know why. They’re nothing alike. There is no water, the air is toxic, and any spacecraft that have successfully landed on the surface have been crushed by Venusian atmospheric pressure.

It’s pretty harmless from here, though.

During my first-ever semester in college, waaaay back when Pluto was still a planet, I took an astronomy course at Andrews Air Force Base and it was taught by a professor who worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. It was the first time I’d ever heard of people being made out of stardust. And because many of my classmates were full-time military personnel, we had a lot of discussions about aliens, UFOs, and the possibility of life on other planets. (Military bases are always a favorite tourist stop for outer-spacemen.)

My professor had a theory about our solar system and human evolution. He believed, in a way that makes scientist work so feverishly to discover things, that humans have lived on other planets before. We’ve simply destroyed them with our greedy, unsustainable ways. Luckily for us, and unluckily for the remaining planets, our always evolving abilities to create (dys)functioning governments and technological wonders have allowed for humans to continue colonizing other planets just in time to save ourselves from extinction. Earth today. Mars tomorrow. Maybe even Venus one day. Last and First Men, anyone?

We never brought up religion in this class. At least, if it was mentioned, I can’t remember it being a hindrance to the lively conversations we had about stardust, interplanetary metro transit, or the Martian economy.


Venus will eventually fade away from the night sky as the December days fall into January. Before you know it, it will be a morning star. The planet will soon be only 27 million miles away, still a fairly safe distance from here, and you’ll have to wake up nearly an hour before sunrise to spot it. Enjoy it while you can.

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