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Interesting Facts About Venus You Need to Know

Read Time: 5 minutes

Our journey through the solar system has taken us to Mercury, the smallest planet in our celestial neighborhood. Today, we continue on to Venus, the second planet in the solar system. Here are some facts about Venus every budding astronomy enthusiast should know.

10 Interesting Facts About Venus

What are should you know about Venus?

1. The Inspiration

When you see Venus with the naked eye, it’s one of the brightest and most beautiful “stars” in the sky. That’s why experts named it after the Roman goddess of love.

2. The Name

When we’re talking about the eight primary planets in our solar system — not including moons and asteroids — this is the only celestial body that scientists named after a woman.

3. The Origins

Venus is visible with the naked eye. However, we once thought it was two different stars, one seen in the morning and another in the evening. We called these stars Lucifer — which at the time meant light-bringer and had no association with Christianity — and Vesper. The Greeks called the morning and evening stars Phosphoros and Hesperus.

4. The Brightness

From Earth, Venus is the second brightest object in the night sky that isn’t human-made. The only thing that’s brighter is our moon.

5. The Years

Despite being the second closest planet to the sun, years work a bit differently than Earth years. On Venus, you’ll orbit the sun once every 225 Earth days — about 2/3 of one year here on Earth. Of course, it will also take the planet 243 days to rotate on its axis, making the days longer than the years. In fact, you can celebrate two birthdays in a single Venus day.

6. The Sunrise

Venus rotates in a direction opposite of its orbit. This event, called retrograde rotation, means that instead of seeing the sun rise in the east and set in the west like it does here on Earth, it would do the opposite, rising in the west and setting in the east.

7. The Surface

Somewhere between two and three billion years ago, Venus might have supported liquid water and possibly life. It may have even looked similar to Earth. A massive shift in the planet’s surface — sometime around 700 million years ago — caused a greenhouse effect.

8. The Temperature

On average, the surface of Venus sits at around 864 degrees Fahrenheit, making Venus the hottest celestial body in our solar system. That temperature is enough to melt lead on the surface of the planet.

9. The Visibility

Venus is one of five planets that you can see from Earth with the naked eye. The other four planets you can see without the aid of a telescope are Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

10. The Tilt

The reason we have seasons here on Earth is because our planet is tilted roughly 23.5 degrees on its axis, so different parts are closer or further away from the sun.  Venus’s tilt is less than 3 degrees, so it doesn’t have any seasons.

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Venus Properties & Information

Want to learn more about the second planet in the solar system? Check out these quick facts about Venus to store away:

  • Location in solar system: The second planet from the Sun
  • Distance from sun: 108 million kilometers, or 67 million miles
  • Composition: Primarily silicate rock, though beyond the crust is unknown
  • Size: 12,100 km, or 7,518.6 miles, at the equator
  • Surface: 177.7 million square miles
  • Structure: Similar to Earth, with an iron core and rocky mantle
  • Color: Reddish-brown surface with yellow and white clouds
  • Atmosphere: 96% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen and other trace gasses
  • Temperature: 462 degrees Celsius, or 864 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Orbital Period: 225 Days
  • Rotation Period: 243 Days

Who Discovered Venus?

We’ve looked at Venus for centuries, but who was the first person to discover that it was a planet?

This celestial body is so bright in the night and early morning sky that it’s impossible to determine who might have discovered it first. The initial recorded observations of the planet were sometime around 1600 BC, thanks to an ancient Babylonian text. However, we didn’t get our first glimpse of the planet until 1610, when Galileo Galilei first aimed his telescope at it.

Since then, we’ve attempted to land multiple spacecraft on the surface. Scientists hope to get a better idea of what the planet looks like beneath the clouds. In most cases, however, they didn’t make it through the thick atmosphere or the caustic environment and intense pressure destroyed them.

What Is Venus Known For?

The second planet in our solar system is known for a lot of different things. For starters, it’s the hottest planet in the neighborhood. It’s also entirely uninhabitable due to the intense heat and an atmosphere that’s made up primarily of carbon dioxide.

People also remember this celestial body for being the second brightest object in the night sky. It’s something we’ve been able to spot for thousands of years. Despite its visibility from Earth, it’s difficult for scientists to study the planet up-close because spacecraft cannot last long on its surface.

What Makes Venus Unique?

Venus is unique in a number of ways. It’s got one of the densest atmospheres in the solar system, but it’s almost entirely carbon dioxide. The atmospheric pressure is so high on the planet’s surface that even the toughest spacecraft succumbs in less than an hour.

Venus is also one of the most volcanically active planets in the solar system. It has more volcanoes than any other planet in the Milky Way. We’ve identified 1,600 major volcanic features thus far. However, there could be more than 1,000,000 of them hiding under the dense cloud cover.

The Future of Venus and the Milky Way

Scientists may have named it for the Roman goddess of love and beauty, but the evening star offers one of the harshest environments in the solar system. What is your favorite planet Venus fact? Let us know in the comments below. Next, we’ll move on to Mars, Venus’s distant neighbor.

Feature Image Source: NASA/ JPL / USGS
Interesting Facts About Venus You Need to Know
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Article by: Megan Ray Nichols

Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance science writer and science enthusiast. Her favorite subjects include astronomy and the environment. Megan is also a regular contributor to The Naked Scientists, Thomas Insights, and Real Clear Science. When she isn't writing, Megan loves watching movies, hiking, and stargazing.