Next in our 5 Facts series we have the most evil planet of them all!

The second planet from the sun is named after the Roman Goddess of love. However, as we are about to find out, it is far from lovely!

  • Hot, Hot, Hot! 

Although Mercury is closest to the sun, Venus wins the ‘Hottest Planet in the Solar System’ award due to its very thick atmosphere. This thick blanket of atmosphere traps all of the sun’s heat creating temperatures up to 470 °C (even at night)! Not sure any of us could withstand this particularly living with Irish temperatures! 

image of 2004 Venus-Transit
The 2004 Transit of Venus. Credit: NASA
  • Earth’s Evil Twin 

Venus has acquired this nickname because if it wasn’t for the atmosphere, Venus would be quite like Earth. It is very similar in terms of size and some geographical features. It has mountains, valleys and many volcanoes. The highest mountain on Venus is called Maxwell Montes. It is 20,000 feet high (8.8 kilometers) which similar in height to Mount Everest. It also has hurricane-force winds and rain. Not just any rain though, no, it’s sulphuric acid rain (hence the evil twin part)! 

Same but different. Earth and Venus side by side. Credit: NASA
  • A Day is Longer than a Year 

One full orbit of the sun takes Venus 225 Earth days and its orbit is nearly a perfect circle. In fact, it has the most circular orbit of any other planet in our solar system. Now, here’s the unusual part: Venus has a ‘backwards’ rotation so it completes one full rotation in 243 Earth days. Not only does Venus have the longest day out of all the other planets, it also has a day longer than its year! 

Venus rotates very slowly in the opposite direction to earth! Credit: NASA
  • Is it a star? 

The good thing about Venus for us here on earth is that this planet is visible from our home planet. You don’t need a telescope or binoculars as it is so bright in our night sky! You can see it most months of the year. So, what are you waiting for?! Get your coat and camera and get out planet spotting! 

Image of Venus over Pacific
Venus rising from the waves? Our sister planet is seen reflected in the Pacific Ocean. (Image Credit: Mila Zinkova via Wikipedia)
  • In no hurry to visit!  

Due to hostile conditions, Venus is pretty much out of the question when it comes to humans visiting the planet. However, sending space probes is not completely out of the question. In 1982 Venera 13, a Soviet spacecraft, was the first lander to transmit colour images from the surface of Venus. Despite the harsh conditions, it ended up transmitting data for more than 2 hours after its landing. No lander has been to the surface of Venus since the 1980s. So, what is next for our exploration of Venus? As of early 2019, Japan’s  Akatsuki mission  is still studying Venus’ climate and atmosphere. NASA and Roscosmos are discussing a successor  Venus landing mission called Venera-D  that hopes to spend months on the planet’s surface. 

Image of the surface of Venus
Deathworld! An artist’s impression of the desolate surface of Venus (Image credit: ESA)

1 Comment

Venus and the cup anemometer – Astronotes · June 4, 2020 at 09:00

[…] atmosphere and landed on the surface where it survived for 53 min, not a small feat given the inhospitable conditions at the planet “next […]

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