Humans are naturally curious. It’s possibly one of the most defining characteristics of our species. Some believe that our drive to figure out new things and to explore new places is why we ended up evolving away from primates.
But once we started running out of things to be curious about here on Earth, we began to look outwards into the infinity of space. Our quest continues to find new things and to satisfy our passion for more information.
That’s how we ended up observing and “visiting” other planets far from home. One such place is Venus, a truly intriguing planet, which also happens to be not too far from Earth.
Read on to discover 25 Fascinating Planet Venus Facts that will enlighten you about our nearest celestial neighbor.
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The only "female" planet
Of all planets in our solar system, Venus is the only planet that has been named after a female.
It got its name from the Greek goddess of beauty and love, known as Aphrodite. The Romans called her Venus in Latin.
Venus is sometimes called Earth’s twin because the two planets are almost the same size, have roughly the same mass, they weigh about the same, and have a similar composition. They are both made of the same material.
Additionally, Venus (just like Earth) has a solid surface you can walk on, a comparable surface composition, an atmosphere, and a weather system.
It's technically older than Earth
It’s believed that all the planets of our solar system formed at the same time, about 4.58 billion years ago. However, the estimated age of the surface on Venus is around 300-400 million years old.
Keep in mind that the surface of our beautiful planet is only estimated to be 100 million years old. In other words, Earth is still a baby compared to Venus.
Close to the sun
Let’s suppose you stood on the sun – which you can’t literally do, of course – and look at the planets. From that vantage point, Venus is the second closest planet to the sun, right after Mercury.
The light from the sun takes about six minutes to reach Venus. By contrast, light from the sun takes roughly eight minutes to reach Earth.
Very bright planet
Besides the earth’s moon, Venus is the brightest object visible in the night sky.
The planet has an apparent magnitude of -3.8 to -4.6, which makes it potentially visible even on a bright, clear day.
It's really hot there
Okay, we’ve already discussed the extreme temperatures on Venus.
Interestingly, although Mercury is closer to the sun, Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system. Mercury is the second hottest.
To get an idea of how hot it is there, the temperature on Venus (462°C) is enough to melt lead!
Venus is "seasonless"
As you probably understand by now, Venus doesn’t have cool winters or rainy autumns like Earth.
For that matter, the surface of Venus experiences no temperature variations at all. Everywhere you go on the entire planet, the temperature basically feels like you’re in hell (in other words, it’s hot … really hot).
It rotates clockwise
Nearly every planet in the solar system rotates counter-clockwise on its axis. That’s not the case for Venus though. Just like Uranus, Venus rotates clockwise.
This is known as a retrograde rotation and may have been caused by a collision with an asteroid or another object, which caused the planet to change its rotational path.
Furthermore, Venus’ orbit is the most circular compared to the rest of the planets in our solar system.
Venus has immense atmospheric pressure
Venus’ atmospheric pressure is much stronger than Earth’s despite the fact that the two planets are nearly the same size and mass. Give or take, the pressure is about 92 times stronger than you would find on Earth.
This means that any small asteroids “invading” the atmosphere are quickly crushed by the enormous pressure. It also explains why there are no small surface craters on the planet.
A weak magnetic field
Surprisingly, Venus has a very weak magnetic field, despite the field’s similarity in strength to Earth’s.
A logical explanation as to why this happens is that Venus has no solid inner core, or that its core is not cooling.
Too windy for kites
Winds sweep across Venus at extreme speeds that can reach around 450 mph (724 kph) in its middle cloud layer.
The winds there are faster than the wildest tornado or hurricane on Earth.
Not our closest neighbor?
Until recently, we thought that Venus was our closest neighbor. But this may not be the case after all.
Even though Venus is the planet that comes closest to Earth as it sweeps by on its orbit, Mercury stays the closest to Earth the longest, according to new scientific observations.
Let’s hypothetically say that we were able to land on this super hot planet, OK? What would the view be like from there, you ask?
Sorry to disappoint you, but we wouldn’t be able to see much (or anything at all) as dense clouds always cover the skies of the planet. They’re so dense that you can’t even see the sun.
Life not welcome on Venus
Even though astronomers aren’t certain if some form of life might possibly exist on Venus, it’s highly doubted.
Due to the ridiculously high temperatures on the planet’s surface, none of the plants or animals that live on Earth could survive on Venus.
40 spacecraft and counting
The fact that the climate on Venus is not welcome to men (and women for that matter) doesn’t mean that it’s also not welcome to man-made creations.
Thus, the hot planet has been visited and explored by more than 40 spacecraft from planet Earth.
The first nation to Venus
The first spacecraft to land on Venus was the Soviet spaceship Venera 7, an unmanned vehicle that reached the planet’s surface on December 15, 1970.
Before that, another Soviet spaceship named Venera 3 had crashed into the planet in 1966. Due to the planet’s extreme heat and hurricane-force winds, there have been few space quests in that direction.
The Ancient Greeks called it "Phosphorus" and "Hesperus"
When the orbit of Venus overtakes Earth’s orbit, it is visible at sunset instead of sunrise. For that reason, some scientists refer to Venus as the “morning star” and “evening star.”
This reference goes back to antiquity when some ancient cultures thought that Venus was two distinct stars appearing in the sky.
The legendary Greek mathematician Pythagoras was the first to discover that these “two” bright stars happened to be the same object. The Greeks called Venus “Phosphorus” when it was visible during daylight and “Hesperus” when it was visible at sunset.
A perfect sphere
Venus has the shape of an almost perfect sphere. The other two planets that have a perfect circular sphere are Mercury and the dwarf planet Pluto.
This means that there is not much difference between its equatorial and polar diameters.
An ocean on Venus?
Scientists suggest that the planet’s surface is super dry and contains no liquid water. However, that might not have always been the case.
New studies show that Venus may have once had a shallow ocean as well as habitable surface temperatures. Keep in mind that when we say “once,” we mean something like two billion years ago.
Venus has more volcanoes than any other planet in our solar system.
Astronomers have been able to count more than 1,600 major volcanoes or volcanic features on Venus, while there are also many smaller volcanoes.
Moonless nights on Venus
There are dozens of moons in the Solar System, ranging from airless worlds like Earth’s moon to those with an atmosphere.
While there are planets that have numerous moons – Jupiter has a crazy total of 63 moons – Venus has no moons at all.
Venus and Mercury are the only two planets of the solar system without a single natural moon orbiting them.
The phases of Venus
It may not have its own moon; however, Venus has a few similarities with our moon. To be more specific, Galileo Galilei observed in 1610 that Venus has phases like that of the moon.
When Venus is between the sun and Earth, it has a new phase. When it is behind the sun, the planet is in full phase.
Friday is "Venus Day"
Do you know what day of the week “belongs” to Venus?
How does this work? Well, the English word “Friday” has its roots in the Anglo-Saxon word Frigedaeg, which means “Venus day.” (Friga is Venus and dae is day.)
Interestingly, most days of the week are named after Roman gods or celestial bodies.
Is Zeus from Venus?
Even though the Greek god of lightning, Zeus, has a planet named after him (Jupiter means Zeus in Latin), he could very well be from Venus.
Images and data from the Venus Express spacecraft (2007) have shown that lightning occurs often on Venus. In fact, lightning is way more common on Venus than on Earth.
Really long days on Venus
Scientifically speaking, a day is the period of time during which a planet completes one rotation around its axis.
In Earth’s case, this process lasts 24 hours. However, on Venus, things are a “little” different. Due to its very slow rotation, a single Venus day lasts as long as 117 Earth days.
The workaholics who don’t have enough time on Earth would love it there, huh?