Venus

The Lady

Venus is the second closest planet to the sun at 108 million kilometers (67 million miles) away.

Picture
Venus passing in front of the sun
on June 5, 2012

Venus has the honor of being the only planet named after a female, the Roman goddess of love and beauty.

Venus is the brightest natural object when we look in the sky (aside from the Sun and Moon).

The first star you see in the evening is likely to be Venus (or maybe Jupiter if Venus is below the horizon).

Temperature

Even though Mercury is closer to the Sun, Venus is actually the hottest planet in the solar system.

Venus has an extremely dense atmosphere consisting of carbon dioxide and clouds of sulfuric acid 64 kilometers (39 miles) thick.

Because of these conditions, the atmosphere produces a greenhouse effect that traps the heat it receives from the sun and warms the planet up to over 460°C (860°F), which is hot enough to melt lead.

Unlike Mercury, Venus has a very small temperature range. The thickness of the atmosphere keeps the heat in so well that the temperature changes are small.

Venus has a circular orbit around the sun that also contributes to the consistency of the temperatures.

Tilted Axis

Venus has tilted so much in its planetary life that it is almost upside down. Venus is one of only two planets (Uranus as well) to rotate opposite to the other planets.

So on Venus the sun rises in the west and sets in the east (opposite to Earth).

Venus vs. Earth

Picture
Venus is almost the same size as Earth

Venus is often called Earth's twin because both planets are almost the same size, have almost the same mass, similar compositions, and have an atmosphere with intricate weather systems.

But the similarities end there, as Venus has no moons, water, life or breathable air. So Venus would not be a good place to visit, not just for the high temperature, but also for the intense atmospheric pressure.

 

Pressure

The pressure of the atmosphere is 90 times that of Earth, it would be like walking under 1 kilometer of water.

Even if a human being could survive the intense heat and the ultimate feat of descending down through sulfuric acid, the pressure on the surface would crush them flat.

 

Surface

Two-thirds of the surface of Venus is flat and marked with thousands of volcanoes, like this picture (taken by the Hubble Telescope)

The volcanoes can be up to 240 kilometers (150 miles) wide.

Venus boasts a planetary record of holding the longest lava canal stemming from a volcano which can be up to 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) in length.

The rest of Venus is covered in mountain ranges, one of which is named Maxwell, the tallest and highest structure on the planet. It is 870 kilometers (540 miles) long and 11.3 kilometers (7 miles) wide.

Rotation and revolution

Venus is unique when it comes to revolution and rotation.

It takes Venus 225 days to revolve around the Sun (its "Year").

But it takes 243 earth days to rotate on its axis (its "Day"), rotating backwards!

Because of all this, the sun rises every 117 Earth days.

Gravity

Venus's surface gravity is 90% of Earth's. This means a person weighing 45 kilograms (100 pounds) would weigh slightly less at 40 kilograms (90 pounds) on Venus.

 

 


Mercury, Venus (2nd from the Sun), Earth, Mars,
and the Gas Giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune

(Images courtesy NASA.)