Venus is the second planet from the Sun and the third brightest after Sun and Moon in the sky. This is often referred to as Earth ‘s sister planet because they are so similar in size and mass. Venus is the planet nearest to Earth, too. Venus ‘s atmosphere is covered by an invisible layer of clouds produced from sulphuric acid.
Although considered a twin to Earth, Venus is around the same size and is fairly similar to our planet. Yet once in the past half-century or so astronomers have looked at it seriously, a lot of comparisons appeared. The biggest — Venus is basically a planet in the hothouse with a runaway greenhouse effect, making it inhospitable to life as we know. Below are a few more fascinating facts about Venus.
1. A Day on Venus Lasts More Than a Year
In its axis (sidereal day), it takes 243 Earth days to rotate once because of its slow movement on its axis. The orbit of the earth around the Sun takes 225 Earth days, compared with 365 of the Moon. A day (solar day) on the surface of Venus takes 117 Earth days.
2. Venus is known as the Morning Star and Evening Star
This is from ancient cultures who claimed Venus was actually two distinct stars appearing in the sky. As Venus’ orbit overtakes the orbit of Earth it transitions from being visible at sunrise to be visible at sunset. The Greeks knew them as Phosphorus and Hesperus, and the Romans knew them as Satan and Vesper.
3. Venus is the Hottest Planet
You sure you don’t want to hang up on the surface of Venus. There’s such a high pressure that spacecraft need protection to survive. The atmosphere consists of carbon dioxide that includes particles of sulfuric acid, NASA says, which is poisonous to humans. As if that’s not bad enough, the surface temperature is above 470 degree Celsius (880 degrees Fahrenheit). The Soviet Venera samples that went to the surface decades ago lasted only two hours.
4. Sister Planet of Earth
It is because their size is somewhat similar (only 638 km in diameter is different) and Venus has around 81 per cent of the Earth’s mass. These are both closely situated with the nearest planet to Earth being Venus. All planets have a central core as well as a molten mantle and a crust.
5. Second Brightest Natural Object
The planet is absolutely socked in by clouds, making it highly opaque for observers gazing at the Earth’s sky. The brightness is between magnitude -3.8 and magnitude -4.8 which makes it brighter than the celestial stars. In reality, it’s so bright that in a telescope you can see it moving through phases-and it can cast shadows! So the remarkable appearance may confuse people who are not familiar with Venus in the atmosphere, resulting in an airplane or UFO stories.
6. Venus Comes with Volcanoes
Venus has fresh lava flows on its floor, which means that from the last few hundred years to the last three million years, volcanoes have erupted everywhere. All this means is that there are few surface impact craters, possibly because the lava had washed over them and filled them in. Although scientists agree that the volcanoes are responsible, the bigger question is how often that happens.
7. Venus Has Neither Moons Nor Rings
There are no rings or moons on the two planets closest to the Sun which puts Venus in the company of just another planet: Mercury. Any other planet has one or the other in the Solar System, or in certain cases both! Why this is a mystery to scientists, but to understand what is going on they do as much study of different planets as possible.
8. Venus Rotates Opposite to Other Planets
And other planets rotate on their axis in the counter-clockwise direction but Venus, like Uranus, rotates in the clockwise direction. This is known as a retrograde rotation, which may have been caused by a collision with an asteroid or other body that caused the planet to change its direction of rotation.
9. Venus Has a Weak Magnetic Field
It shocked scientists who believed Venus to have a similarly heavy magnetic field to Earth’s. One potential explanation for this is that Venus doesn’t have a solid inner core, or its core doesn’t cool.
10. Russia Dispatched the First Mission to Venus
The space probe Venera 1 was launched in 1961 but has lost contact with the platform. The United States has lost the first probe to Venus, Mariner 1, but in 1962, Mariner 2 was able to take measurements of the earth. In 1966, the Venera 3 of the Soviet Union became the first man-made aircraft to land on Venus.
11. Venus was thought to be a Tropical Paradise at one point
The thick sulphuric acid clouds that envelope Venus make it difficult to see its surface from beyond its atmosphere. It was only with the advent of radio imaging in the 1960s that scientists were able to detect the high temperatures and the hostile climate.