Venus is the planet most similar to Earth and is second closest to the sun. Venus has been a bit of a mystery for a long time because it is very hard to view its surface. It was once thought that the planet was so similar to Earth that it might actually have life on it. As technology has improved this has been found not to be true. Below are some facts on the mysterious planet Venus:
- Venus is the second planet from the sun. It is between Mercury and Earth and is a distance of 67 million miles (108 million kilometres) away from the sun.
- Venus is 162 million miles (261 million kilometres) away from Earth. This makes it the closest planet to us.
- Venus got its name from the Roman Goddess of Beauty Venus. This is because it shone brighter than any other planet known to the ancient astronomers who named them. It is the only planet that is named after a female god.
- Venus is the brightest planet in the solar system. That makes it the easiest planet to see from Earth. The only items in the solar system that are brighter are the sun and our moon. It is so bright that it is often reported as a UFO – “unidentified flying object”.
- Venus takes 225 days to orbit the sun and 243 days to rotate on its’ axis. That means that one day is actually longer than one year on Venus!
- Venus does not have any moons or rings. Mercury and Venus are the only planets in the solar system without their own moons. There are a few different theories about why this is but no one really knows the answer yet.
- Like Mercury, in ancient times Venus was believed to be two separate objects name the morning star and the evening star. Back then they were known as Vesper and Lucifer.
- Venus rotates in the opposite direction to most other planets, moving clockwise. Only Venus and Uranus rotate this way. It is called retrograde rotation.
- Venus is sometimes called Earths sister planet as they are very similar in size. Venus is 7520 miles in diameter (12,103 kilometres) , Earth is 7900 miles (12,742 kilometres) in diameter.
- Even though it is not the closest planet to the sun Venus is actually the hottest planet, its temperatures average at 462 degrees Celcius (862 degrees Fahrenheit). This is 62 degrees hotter than Mercury – the planet closest to the Sun. Probes that have reached the planet have only survived for a couple of hours before the heat has destroyed them.
- The temperature on Venus does not change much between day and night because there are slow solar winds blowing across the surface helping to move and maintain the heat. These plus the thick blanket of clouds covering venus keep the temperature pretty much the same all of the time.
- You cannot view the surface of Venus through a telescope. This is because it is surrounded by thick clouds of sulphuric acid and water vapor
- Venus’ atmosphere is mostly made up of carbon dioxide. This plus the thick clouds cause the high temperatures because the sun heats the planets surface and the carbon dioxide and clouds create a “greenhouse effect” which does not allow the heat to escape.
- There are no seasons on Venus. It only has an axial tilt of 2.7 degrees which isn’t really big enough to have any effect or create seasons.
- The surface on Venus is mostly made up of continents mountains and craters and is visually similar to Earth – another reason it is sometimes called Earths sister planet.
- The surface of Venus is too hot and atmosphere too hostile for anything to live on.
- Between 1961 and 1984 the Soviet Union launched several space probes to find out more information about Venus, a number of which successfully landed on the planet’s surface. Two of these probes captured and transmitted the first ever images of the surface of Venus.
- Before the Soviet Union mission scientists had hoped that Venus had conditions that could sustain life. The information discovered proved them to be wrong.
- In 1993 NASA used the Magellan probe and radar systems to obtain a map of almost the whole of Venus’ surface. This showed that the surface of Venus appears to be quite young in comparison to other planets. Scientists estimated it to be less that 800 million years old. Much younger than Earths 4.54 billion years.
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