Immanuel Velikovsky Based on his interpretation of 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.

Three 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, as with 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 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 field 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 (from passing Jupiter, transiting the asteroid belt, and interacting with Earth and Mars).

This explanation overcomes the three chief objections—€”escape velocity, elemental composition, and heat generation—to Velikovsky’s assertion 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 information.  Many myths are fanciful; some contain important truths.  These are easy to grasp once the right interpretation becomes available.

Venus Was Ovoid

Second, 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 as it passed Jupiter.  In ancient times Venus was Egypt’s Venus Goddess Sekhmetdepicted as ovoid, e.g., in Ohio’s Great Serpent Mound and in the depiction of Egypt’s Venus goddess Sekhmet.4

Tidal locking of a molten Venus to Jupiter’s gravity evidently came close to tearing Venus in two.  The anomalous, very slow retrograde rotation of Venus (which, however, is steadily shifting toward prograde) can likewise be powerfully explained as a result of tidal locking to Jupiter, while the atmosphere of Venus continued to rotate at more than 50 times the velocity of the planet’s slowed rotation.

Third, a new interpretation of iconographic evidence also deserves attention.5  In the photograph from Abu Simbel of 13th-century 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 already before 1200 BC?

In addition to these three 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).

A Satisfactory Solution

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 steadily 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 four close 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.  In contrast to Velikovsky’s contrarian aversion to Newtonian gravity, the Revised Venus Theory is a tidal theory that accords a central role to gravity.

The Revised Venus Theory also leads to a more general Outer Solar System Theory of the Origin of the Terrestrial Planets and a Martian Theory of Mass Extinctions, neither previously readily accessible to planetary scientists but possessing many points of superiority to current mistaken beliefs.  As the three theories are interlocking, evidence for one supports the other two as well, meaning that more evidence and logic now support the Venus theory.

The Revised Venus Theory has the effect of bringing the somewhat blurred image that the pioneer Velikovsky provided us into sharp focus.  It puts at our fingertips a range of evidence that had been inaccessible to Velikovsky.  The central contention that Venus repeatedly approached Earth seems hard to deny credibly.  Of course, many peripheral issues remain open to debate.  But the Revised Venus Theory has made critics of the original Venus theory out of date and has undermined their standing.  If they wish to regain their credibility, they need to address the Revised Venus Theory rather than studiously avoiding it, as they have thus far done, 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.  Paradoxically, correcting several mistakes by Velikovsky makes the Venus theory work much better, and thereby redounds to his credit:  he was indeed right about Venus approaching Earth.

Arguably the world’s greatest ongoing case of Scientific Rejectionism, the Venus controversy offers important lessons for planetary and Earth science, for ancient history, and for how science can go astray.


Kenneth J. Dillon is a historical and scientific researcher.  See the biosketch at About Us.  The Velikovsky controversy, the Revised Venus Theory, the Outer Solar System Origin of the Terrestrial Planets, and the Martian Theory of Mass Extinctions figure in his novel of discovery science Rosemarie.

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 and other supporting evidence, had been put forward decades ago 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 objection—How could Venus’ orbit circularize so rapidly?—can be found at The Outer Solar System Origin of the Terrestrial Planets.
4. These images are, respectively, visible and UV mosaics, Image processing by R. Nunes,  See more at:
5. Photo credit: Hedwig Storch, Wikimedia Commons.  My thanks to researcher Gary Gilligan for this.
6. Peter Warlow.  The Reversing Earth.  London:  J.M. Dent & Sons, 1982
Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Copyright © Scientia Press, 2024