The Planet Venus

The Planet Venus

*The planet Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Its association with the goddess probably stems from it being the brightest object in the night sky, after the Moon, and thus seen as the ‘jewel of the sky.’

* Contrary to popular belief the word Venusian is not the right way to refer to something pertaining to Venus, and is instead a science fiction term to describe beings from the planet Venus. In astronomy the correct adjective to use would have been Venerean but for its unfortunate connotations, and so planetary scientists decided upon the adjective Cytherian, after the island of Cytheria where the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite emerged from a shell.

*Venus is the second planet from the Sun, but is actually hotter than Mercury because its thick cloud layer traps in the heat of the Sun, with temperatures rising up to 484c. Its atmosphere is predominantly carbon dioxide (95%), but also contains nitrogen (3%), sulfuric acid, and traces of other elements.

The Planet Venus*Venus is similar in size and mass to the Earth, and likewise has a central iron core and a molten rocky mantle. The surface of Venus is comprised of rocky, dusty plains with numerous mountains, canyons and meteorite impact craters. However, the constant volcanism and lava flows continually reshape its surface.

*Whereas the Earth takes just 24 hours to revolve on its axis, Venus rotates very slowly with one Venusian day equal to 243 of our Earth days. It is also the only planet in the solar system to rotate clockwise on its axis and can be observed going through ‘phases’ like the Moon.

*Venus can be viewed with the naked eye in the east up to 3 hours before sunrise, and in the west up to 3 hours before sunset. Although Venus can be seen through any binoculars or telescope it is notoriously difficult to observe in detail because its brightness produces a glare for the observer and its thick cloudy atmosphere means its surface features are never visible. The planet Venus usually appears white, although its clouds are actually pale yellow.

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