Based on his interpretation of32immanuel-velikovsky-1 ancient sources, Immanuel Velikovsky argued famously that Venus had emerged from Jupiter as a comet; interacted with the Earth and Mars in the second and first millennia BC, causing the Bronze Age catastrophes; and then finally settled into a nearly circular orbit of the Sun.

Four new lines of reasoning support a Revised Venus Theory.

First, instead of the various unpersuasive suggestions that Velikovsky and others have made for how a cometary Venus could have emerged from Jupiter, we should consider the possible consequences of the immense gravitational field of Jupiter, which pulls toward it a stream of asteroids and comets such as Shoemaker-Levy 9 in 1994. A plausible scenario would have an initially dark, cold proto-Venus, pulled by Jupiter’s gravity from the outer solar system shortly before 2525 BC, pass close to Jupiter yet manage to escape its gravitational field. We can term this the Peripheral Passage of Jupiter by Venus, and we can assume that extreme tidal forces from Jupiter’s gravitational field created tremendous heating and a great cometary tail visible to observers on Earth.

This would account for the curious stories of the ancient Greeks, that Athena (Venus—eventually Aphrodite replaced Athena in this role) was born from the head of Zeus (Jupiter), and of the ancient Hindus, that Shukra (Venus) emerged from the mouth of Shiva (Guru or Jupiter). According to Greek myth, Zeus turned the pregnant Metis into a fly who zipped into his mouth.  She gave birth to Athena inside of him, and then Athena emerged from his head.  In effect, a Greek observer spotted proto-Venus when it was approaching Jupiter as tidal friction heated it up to incandescence, and the Greeks called it Metis (this interpretation postdates Velikovsky).

We also now know that Athena was originally A Fena, The Phoenician, referring to the brilliant comet rising in the East.1  So, too, the Roman Venus (evidently originally Fenus, The Phoenician). Velikovsky misinterpreted the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus myth to mean that Venus had fissioned off of Jupiter itself.  His scientific critics rightly considered that bizarre and unacceptable, so his reputation suffered.  Opponents ignored his other contributions while dwelling on his mistakes.2

Proto-Venus would have been large and dense enough to maintain its integrity in the gravitational and magnetic fields of Jupiter, though the entire planet would have become molten. This Venus would possess a set of elements different from those of Jupiter itself. This scenario would also resolve the paradox that Venus is old (the proto-Venus) and yet its surface features appear young (shaped by its Peripheral Passage).

The Peripheral Passage explanation overcomes the three chief objections—€”escape velocity, elemental composition, and heat generation—to the assertion of Velikovsky that Venus emerged as a comet from Jupiter. The Jovian origin of Venus has been a leading target of critics of Velikovsky’s theories (it was #1 on astronomer Carl Sagan’s list) as well as a key reason for denying validity to ancient accounts, many in mythical form, as sources of astronomical, climatic, and geological information.3 These objections held particular importance because the whole theory depended on the reported emergence of a comet-like Venus from Jupiter, which seemed outlandish and not credible to critics. Now that this emergence can be seen to have a scientifically plausible explanation, the credibility of the ancient observers, €”who after all were eyewitnesses, must rise accordingly; and therefore their other stories must be examined more carefully as potential sources of important information.  In short, many myths are fanciful, but some contain important truths.  These are easy to grasp once one makes the right interpretation.

The story of Metis ties into a more general theory of the terrestrial planets of which the Revised Venus Theory forms part.

The Black Drop

Second, the Black Drop observed during the transits of Venus across the solar disk appears to be the residual tail of the comet/planet. On ingress from the solar limb, the Black Drop stretches out behind Venus; on egress, it appears in front of the planet. During transit, it is not visible. A residual comet’s tail on Venus would be shifted by the solar wind from trailing the planet at ingress, to standing away from the sun during transit (thus only the disk of Venus would appear), and finally to preceding the planet at egress.

The Black Drop is usually ascribed to various optical effects. One 18th-century observer said it made the planet look “like a nine pin”. Drawings by observers make the Black Drop appear like a small tail. The effect was originally thought to be related to the atmosphere of Venus, but the Black Drop was subsequently found to be too large. Mercury, which has no atmosphere, also has a Black Drop when transiting the sun; and it is clearly visible from a space-based telescope, so this effect is not an artifact of the Earth’s atmosphere. This suggests that either the Black Drops of both planets are caused by some extra-atmospheric optical effect or that both planets possess remnants of comet tails (Mercury could have captured some of Venus’ tail during a close encounter).

Presumably, the motion of Venus would make the tail (Black Drop) shorter at egress than at ingress, which could be measured; it is possible that skewing of the tail could be detected in transits that cut very obliquely across the Sun; and there might be some way to detect the tail as it stands away from the surface of the planet during transit. Or a sensitive telescope might detect a residual tail even when Venus is not transiting the Sun. Venus also possesses a much-studied gas tail that extends as far as the Earth’s orbit, so this also needs to be investigated in reference to the Black Drop.4

Third, although present-day Venus is very spheroidal, its center of mass is displaced from its cSerpent Moundenter of figure by 280 meters in a way that appears to have been the result of tidal locking during Peripheral Passage of Jupiter.  In ancient times Venus was 220px-GD-EG-KomOmbo016depicted as ovoid, e.g., in Ohio’s Great Serpent Mound and in the depiction of Egyptian goddess Sekhmet.

This striking shape can readily be explained as a consequence of the pull of Jupiter’s gravity on the passing, molten Venus during tidal locking.  The comet-planet evidently came close to being torn in two.  The anomalous, very slow retrograde rotation of Venus (which, however, is rapidly shifting toward prograde) can likewise be powerfully explained as a result of tidal locking to Jupiter, as can the atmospheric super-rotation of Venus at more than 50 times the velocity of the planet’s own rotation.  Velikovsky may not have known that Venus was depicted as ovoid.

Abu SimbelFourth, a new interpretation of iconographic evidence also deserves attention.5  In the photograph from Abu Simbel of Pharaoh Ramses II and his consort Nefertari appear what look like the comet Venus and its two-pronged tail in Nefertari’s headdress, and the smaller Mars with its two imperfectly round moons and its own tail, presumably of dust stirred up by an encounter with Venus or borrowed from Venus’ tail, in the headdress of Ramses II.  How could the ancient Egyptians have seen the moons of Mars with the naked eye?  How could these headdresses be explained other than as depictions of Venus and Mars during approaches to the Earth?

In fact, in addition to these four points, an array of new evidence and reinterpretation supports the Revised Venus Theory.  See Eight New Reasons to Accept the Venus Theory.  See also Kenneth J. Dillon, The Knowable Past (2nd edition, Washington, D.C.:  Scientia Press, 2019).

Thus it seems fair to conclude that the Venus/Velikovsky controversy has found a satisfactory solution at last. The Revised Venus Theory argues that:  1) Venus was pulled from the outer solar system by Jupiter’s gravity, turned incandescent by tidal heating, and entered the inner solar system as a comet that passed Earth every 52 years until its orbit circularized; 2) tidal locking with Jupiter explains why Venus was depicted as ovoid, why it has a slow retrograde (but swiftly changing to prograde) rotation, and why its atmosphere superrotates; 3) the standard chronology provides a better starting date around 2525 BC than Velikovsky’s foreshortened chronology; and 4) during the four closest approaches, in approximately 2200, 1628, 1210, and 820 BC, Earth inverted in response to a modest gravitational torque,6 not primarily because of an electromagnetic interaction, as Velikovsky argued.

Thus the central contention that Venus repeatedly approached Earth seems very believable and fits lots of new evidence.  Of course, many peripheral issues remain open to debate.  But the Revised Venus Theory makes critics of the Venus theory seem badly out of date.  If they wish to retain credibility, they need to address the Revised Venus Theory rather than studiously avoiding it while continuing to criticize inadequacies in the original version.  By the same token, supporters of Velikovsky need to recognize that he made some mistakes and wasn’t aware of what we now know, so they, too, need to come to terms with the Revised Venus Theory.

The second and third images are, respectively, visible and UV mosaics, Image processing by R. Nunes, . – See more at:

Kenneth J. Dillon is an historian who writes on science, medicine, and history.  See the biosketch at About Us.

1. The masculine variant was Poseidon (Bos eidon, the bull of heaven, as in Mesopotamia).
2. Years after writing this, I found that the same idea of an outer solar system origin of Venus, minus Metis, had been put forward by J.C. Keister and Andrew Hamilton, “An Alternative to the Ejection of Venus from Jupiter in Velikovsky’s Catastrophic Theory of the Solar System”, SIS Review, Vol. III, No. 2 (1978), pp. 45-47.  They were evidently ignored.
3. Answers to a second main objection—How could Venus’ orbit circularize so rapidly?—can be found at The Outer Solar System Origin of the Terrestrial Planets.
4. H. Gruenwaldt et al. Venus tail ray observation near Earth. Geophysical Research Letters. Vol. 24, No. 10, May 15, 1997, pp. 1163-6
5. Photo credit: Hedwig Storch, Wikimedia Commons.  My thanks to British researcher Gary Gilligan for this.
6. Peter Warlow.  The Reversing Earth.  London:  J.M. Dent & Sons, 1982
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