Expand your mind with these top eight facts about the planet Venus.
1. A day on Venus is longer than a year
It takes Venus longer to rotate once on its axis than to complete one orbit of the Sun. Thats 243 Earth days to rotate once the longest rotation of any planet in the Solar System and only 224.7 Earth days to complete an orbit of the Sun.
2. Venus is hotter than Mercury despite being further away from the Sun
Its mean temperature is 462°C. This is because of the high concentration of carbon dioxide in Venus atmosphere, which works to produce an intense greenhouse effect. Heat is trapped in the atmosphere like a blanket, causing the temperature of the planet to be much higher than its proximity to the Sun would suggest.
3. Unlike the other planets in our solar system, Venus spins clockwise on its axis
All other planets spin anti-clockwise on their axis and orbit the Sun in an anti-clockwise direction. Venus also orbits the Sun anti-clockwise, but its unusual axis rotation is due to being upside down it was knocked off its upright position earlier in its history!
Venus Phase Evolution © Roger Hutchinson, Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017
Astronomers believe that at some point, a colliding celestial body tilted Venus so far off its original position that it is now upside down.The only other planet to spin in a weird direction is Uranus which spins on its side, probably the result of another collision early on in its life.
4. Venus is the second brightest natural object in the night sky after the Moon
The clouds of sulphuric acid in Venus atmosphere make it reflective and shiny, obscuring our view of its surface. Its brightness makes it visible even during the day if its clear and you know where to look.
Heavenly Neighbours © Saber Karimi, Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017
5. Venus has 90 times the atmospheric pressure of Earth
Thats about the same as the pressure found at a depth of 1km in the Earth's oceans.
6. Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty
It is thought that Venus was named after the beautiful Roman goddess (counterpart to the Greek Aphrodite) due to its bright, shining appearance in the sky. Of the five planets known to ancient astronomers, it would have been the brightest.
7. Venus was the first planet to have its motions plotted across the sky, as early as the second millennium BC
Because Venus is easy to spot with the naked eye, it is impossible to say who discovered the planet. But over the centuries we have been able to measure Venus motions, including the rare transit of Venus, when the planet appears to cross in front of the Sun.
The Transit of Venus © Paul Haese, Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012
8. We tend to say Venusian not Venerian
Following the rules of Latin, we should say venerean as the adjective to describe things related to Venus. However, this is deemed to be too close to the word venereal. The more commonly used word is Venusian despite its clunky etymology.
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