Alchemists were fascinated by phosphorus because it seemed capable of holding light, and because of this, thought that phosphorus represented spiritual illumination. The white form of phosphorus oxidizes in air, appearing to glow green in the dark. Another interesting property of phosphorus was its ability to burn in air. Although copper was commonly associated with the planet Venus, when Venus glowed brightly at dawn, it was called Phosphorus.
The Man who discovered Phosphorus, Hennig Brand, called the substance he had discovered ‘cold fire’ because it was luminous, glowing in the dark.
The name comes from the Greek word ‘phosphoros’ meaning bringer of light.