Neith (Hypothetical Moon)
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Basic Information

Neith is the name of a hypothetical moon of Venus that science assures us doesn't exist. It was first "discovered" by Giovanni Cassini in 1672, and spotted repeatedly by astronomers for over 200 years. Supposedly, Neith was about 1/4 the diameter of Venus.

At least a dozen different observers saw Neith in telescopes, some multiple times, scattered across 1672, 1686, 1740, 1759, 1761, 1764, 1768 and lastly in 1892. In 1884, the Royal Observatory of Brussels "explained" the observation as being an otherwise undetected planet that orbits the sun every 283 days, and which thus passes very close to Venus every 1080 days. These numbers do seem to fit the timing of the various Neith sightings.

The imaginary moon was named after Neith an Egyptian Goddess. Said goddess was in myth concealed by a veil or garment that no mortal could lift nor see beyond.

Despite all these independent corroborations, scientists now agree that Neith does not exist, neither as a moon nor a planet. Many other attempts by a variety of astronomers, both during these years and others, to spot Neith failed to detect anything but Venus. Most likely, all the "successful" views were optical illusions, reflections of Venus itself on the telescope lens, asteroid sightings, or mis-identified stars that were actually light years behind Venus. Our modern telescopes have failed to detect anything where Neith was reported to be.


1. Solar Views website

Game and Story Use

  • Neith as Moon: A moon of Venus could be useful in a steampunk or pulp game, reachable by rocket or airship.
    • In such settings, Venus is often a jungle planet or cloud-covered lost world. Neith may be similarly exotic and hidden, perhaps dipping into the Venusian cloud bank from time to time, and/or harboring strange pterodactyl-like life. A flying Venusian version of the Loch Ness Monster would be appropriate, too.
      • In myth, Neith is a goddess of war and the hunt, and in some images she nurses a crocodile. So, it would be thematically appropriate to put some really scary monsters on this moon.
  • Neith as Planet or Asteroid: In a game with slightly more respect for science, you might still have an undetected dark rock out there near Venus. PCs on an exploratory mission might have to deal with an unexpected near-collision.
  • Neith as Mothership: Perhaps some alien presence was active in and around our solar system, and Venus in particular, in the 17th to 19th Centuries.
    • The question is, have they landed, cloaked, or left the system? Is there an alien base on Venus? Did they simply leave a message there for when we're advanced enough to explore voyage our own world?
    • What kind of hardy organism would consider Venus worth colonizing or investigating, but not think to look for life on Earth? Are they silicon-based lifeforms, or something even more exotic?
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