Early star? Evening star? I searched for both on Google, but weird stuff came up:

Early star - definition of Early star by The Free Dictionary www.thefreedictionary.com/Early+star (Astronomy) astronomy any massive hot star of spectral type O, B, or A. Compare: late-type star. [C20: from the mistaken belief that hot and old stars evolved into ...

Source: The Free Dictionary

Astronomy[edit] The planet Venus when it appears in the west (evening sky), after sunset The ancient Greeks gave it the name Hesperus Less commonly, the planet Mercury when it appears in the west (evening sky) after sunset

Source: Wikipedia

What's the most common way to refer to it?

  • 1
    It is called THE MORNING STAR!!! – Araucaria May 14 '15 at 10:43
  • 4
    @Araucaria Even if they appear in the afternoon/evening? – janoChen May 14 '15 at 11:24
  • 1
    Not so much a question on the English language as one on astronomy and Ancient Greek literature. – Mari-Lou A May 14 '15 at 16:19
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA A bit like ones one biology and crustaceans! ;) – Araucaria May 14 '15 at 18:08
  • 2
    Surely that would be the Sun? :-) – user45532 May 15 '15 at 1:39

The evening star is generally the name for the first shining planet seen after sunset:

  • a planet, especially Venus, that can be seen shining brightly in the west just after the sun has gone down. (Cambridge Dict.)

Venus is also called the morning star when it is visible in the early morning:

  • a bright planet, especially Venus, seen in the east immediately before sunrise. (Dictionary.com)

So why does Venus have these nicknames?

  • The orbit of Venus is inside the orbit of Earth. Unlike the outer planets, Venus is always relatively close to the Sun in the sky. When Venus is on one side of the Sun, it’s trailing the Sun in the sky and brightens into view shortly after the Sun sets, when the sky is dark enough for it to be visible. When Venus is at its brightest, it becomes visible just minutes after the Sun goes down. This is when Venus is seen as the Evening Star.

  • When Venus is on the other side of the Sun, it leads the Sun as it travels across the sky. Venus will rise in the morning a few hours before the Sun. Then as the Sun rises, the sky brightens and Venus fades away in the daytime sky. This is Venus the Morning Star.


  • is also known as the evening star. It was given that name by ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks and Egyptians, who saw it in the sky. The planet was eventually named after the Roman goddess of love because of its beauty.

enter image description here

The Evening Star is Back: How to Spot Venus

  • Since last summer, the dominant evening planet was Jupiter, but that has now changed. As Jupiter sank deeper into the bright glow of evening twilight, Venus emerged.

  • Venus is closer to the sun than Earth, so its year — the time it takes to go around the sun — is much shorter than ours. As Venus circles the sun on the inside track, it alternates from our point of view from the morning sky to the evening and back.

  • After its last stint in the morning sky, Venus appeared to go behind the sun — what astronomers call "superior conjunction" — on Jan. 11. For weeks it was not visible, mired deep in the brilliant glare of the sun. Yet with each passing day, it has been moving on a slow course to the east, pulling away from the sun from our point of view. (www.space.com)

  • 2
    The Greeks gave it the name Hesperus when it was the evening star, and (what's come down to us as) Phosphorus when it was the morning star. Much darker skies then, and it was hard to miss them. Of course, the Greeks knew they weren't stars -- planetes means 'wanderers' in Greek, because it was easy to see that they didn't stay in the same place like stars do, and they were the basis of astronomy and astrology, already two millennia old by Homeric times. – John Lawler May 14 '15 at 15:41
  • @JohnLawler and (getting into interestingly off-topic territory here) Hesperus shares a root with "vespers". – hobbs May 15 '15 at 2:59
  • Well, yeah. That sort of stuff happens all the time. And phosphorus means the light-carrier (phor is the same root as bear and fero -- all mean carry). – John Lawler May 15 '15 at 3:49
  • 1
    Another important reason that Venus most often is recognized as the evening/morning star: it is the brightest star-like appearance in our sky (magnitude -5), exceeded only by the Moon (-13) and the Sun (-26, lower is brighter). – RBarryYoung May 15 '15 at 6:42

This question, perhaps unwittingly (though I suspect not!), touches on a very important question in the philosophy of language.

The Evening Star, a large bright light which often graces the night sky after dusk, was called Hesperus by the ancient Greeks. The god Hesperus was the embodiment of this so-called 'wandering' star.

Moon and Evening star by Spencer

The god Hesperus had a sibling, a half-brother, Phosphorus. Phosphorus was the name given to another bright star which appeared just before dawn, now known colloquially to us as the Morning Star.

enter image description here

It was only centuries later that the ancient Greeks found out that these two stars were actually the same object. In other words Hesperus and Phosphorus were the same. The Babylonians, whom the Greeks discovered this from had known this for some time.

Hesperus as painted by Mengs

Nowadays astronomers know that the Morning and Evening stars are not only the same heavenly object, but they are a planet and not a star. They are known to us as the planet Venus.

So what does this have to do with linguistics and the philosophy of language? Well, in the nineteenth century, the German logician, linguist and philosopher, Frege, was studying philosophy of language in relation to the use of Proper names. He used the Evening Star (Abendstern) and Morning Star (Morgenstern) to illustrate a problem. I'll illustrate the problem in relation to the Original Poster's question and some of the answers here.


The Morning and Evening Stars are actually the same heavenly body, as you know. Suppose someone who speaks a different language from you uses a foreign language name which refers to the same object as one that you are referring to. We might very reasonably suppose that, seeing as both words referred to the same thing, they had the same meaning. Even more straightforward perhaps, is that if we have two words which refer to the same object in English, for example, then one sentence which uses one of these words will be equivalent to another that uses the different word. Or, at the very least, we might expect that the truth values for the two sentences might be the same.

However, consider the fact that at the early stages of this question, none of the answers here mentioned that the Evening Star, which we know to be Venus, is actually the same object as the Morning Star (this information has subsequently been edited into the relevant posts).

Now take for example the tautologous statement:

  1. The Evening Star is the Evening Star.

This statement is obviously true, and seem to carry little informative value. It seems to be substantially different to the assertion that:

  1. The Evening Star is the Morning Star.

This sentence seems to carry some kind of different information from sentence (1). Indeed it would seem to be informative in a way that sentence (1) most definitely is not.

If we try to substitute the Morning and Evening stars with each other, or even substitute either of these with the name Venus, we might expect the sentences to still have the same truth values though. This is what was argued by philosophers such as John Stuart Mill. However, this will not work, it seems. Consider the following:

  1. Bob knows that the Evening Star is the Evening Star.

There is no doubt that this is true. However, is would not necessarily have to follow that:

  1. Bob knows that the Evening Star is the planet Venus.

This may be true and it may not. However supposing that it is, it still by no means follows from this that sentence (5) below is true:

  1. Bob knows that the Morning Star is the planet Venus.

Now, if to use a name that refers to something is exactly the same as to use a different name that refers to that same thing, then it would be impossible for (4) and (5) to have a different truth value. But, it seems it is indeed entirely possible for a sentence like (4) and a sentence like (5) to have different values. In other words one sentence can be true whilst the other is false and vice verse.

It is because of this kind of problem that Frege argued that names that refer to the same thing can have the same reference but different sense. Since then different philosophers such as Kripke and many others have proposed other solutions to these types of problem.

Nonetheless, the Morning and Evening Stars continue to cause philosophers problems. What do we call the Evening Star in English? Erm, well, there is no doubt that we call the Evening Star the Evening Star. Do we call the evening star Venus? Well, many people will refer to this light in the sky as Venus, but does that mean that Venus is the name for the Evening Star? Maybe and maybe not. Does it mean that the Evening Star is known as the Morning Star, as I cheekily suggested under the Original Poster's question? As they suggest in their reply in the comments - probably not!

Readers who are interested in this problem might want to take a look at this entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

  • @Mari-LouA Sorry, don't get the comment? – Araucaria May 15 '15 at 8:06
  • Your first comment left below the OP, helped Josh improve his answer considerably. – Mari-Lou A May 15 '15 at 8:10
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA Are you being crabby? ;) – Araucaria May 15 '15 at 8:38
  • 1
    I guess so... sorry. – Mari-Lou A May 15 '15 at 8:45
  • 1
    Duh, it was a pun! Very good one, too. – Mari-Lou A May 15 '15 at 8:57

While the evenstar or evening star is commonly used, it does usually refer to Venus rather than to the first star seen at dusk.

A more poetic term is the wishing star. This comes from the story told to children to get them to go to bed. If you wish upon the first star that you see then in the morning your wish will come true.

  • 1
    Note that "Evenstar" can be used as a romantic name, e.g. Arwen in TLotR. JanoChen, since your "early star" seems to belong to astrophysics, the stellar sequences, rather than what you can see in the sky, I would respectfully suggest you not use it in conversation. Sine no one else has mentioned it, I will observe that the "morning star" is the same beast, as well as being a spiked mace and Satan. – David Pugh May 14 '15 at 10:42
  • "...also known as the evening star. It was given that name by ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks and Egyptians, who saw it in the sky. The planet was eventually named after the Roman goddess of love because of its beauty." - I don't know where you found this, but it is wrong. This planet was identified with the goddess of love (Babylonian Ishtar, Greek Aphrodite) long before the Romans. – fdb May 14 '15 at 11:14
  • 1
    @fdb But it was never (in English or other related modern languages) called Ishtar or Aphrodite. It was (eventually) named after the Roman god by the Romans, calquing the Greek, and that's the name it has today. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 20 '15 at 9:28

My grandmother used the terms Evening Star and Twilight Star interchangeably.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.