Throughout the centuries, Venus, named for the Roman Goddess of love and beauty, has been a constant source of fascination for humankind, largely because it is so easy to see. The planet, when viewed from Earth, is the second brightest visible object in the night sky behind the moon. The reason that Venus is so uniquely bright is that it is always covered in a thick mass of clouds that reflect sunlight back to Earth. What are some other fun facts about the planet Venus? Check out the post below to find out!
Facts About the Planet Venus
Is Venus Really Earth’s Sister Planet?
Interestingly enough, Venus closely resembles Earth in terms of size, mass, and proximity to the sun, making it the second largest terrestrial planet in the solar system. Previous to the last century, Venus was even believed by some to be capable of supporting life. However, it has since been discovered that conditions on the planet do not so much resemble the heavenly beauty that is its namesake, but moreso a terrifying vortex of squelching heat and greenhouse gases that bears a closer resemblance to Hell.
Differences aside, Venus is still sometimes referred to as Earth’s “sister planet” due to having such similar dimensions and foundational characteristics. It’s radius of 3760 miles is just a shade smaller than that of Earth, and like Earth, Venus’s core is made up entirely of solid iron. Likewise to Earth, Venus is also encrusted in a rocky mantle that is capable of moving and shifting through volcanic activity. The surface of Venus is actually covered in recognizable topographic features like mountains, volcanoes and valleys, once again, much like Earth.
Why Is Venus so Deadly?
One of the defining features of Venus is the extreme heat. The surface temperature of Venus sits at a stable temperature of just over 861 degrees fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt lead into liquid. In addition, there is a constant atmospheric pressure of 93 bars, which is so forceful that it would feel like being one mile underwater just to stand on the surface. Even if human beings could somehow figure out a way to survive the journey through that scalding atmosphere, Venus would still not be the ideal spot for a sunny vacation.
Why is Venus so hot? Simply put, the atmosphere of Venus is composed entirely of carbon dioxide, which essentially creates a greenhouse gas effect gone wild. Scientists believe that tectonic movement on Venus has been nonexistent for billions of years. This means that with no plates shifting, there is no way for carbon dioxide to be sucked back into Venus’s core. And it is well known that carbon dioxide traps the heat of the sun.
It is likely that as carbon dioxide continued to proliferate in the atmosphere, the heat it created would eventually dry up all bodies of water on the surface. Eventually, the hydrogen molecule would be overtaken by all that carbon dioxide and it would be impossible to reproduce more water or any other basic condition capable of supporting life. To add to the hellish effect, the unrelenting heat of the atmosphere creates a constant cover of clouds that tend to move at about 224 miles an hour and produce frequent lightning.
A Day on Venus Lasts More Than a Year
Suppose for a moment that human beings were able to visit Venus. They would probably witness some strange experiences during their stay. This is because in relation to most other planets in the solar system, Venus has a unique rotational pattern.
Firstly, despite being the second closest planet to the sun, Venus’s rotation is uniquely long. One day on Venus takes a whopping 243 Earth days to complete. Meanwhile, it only takes 225 Earth days for Venus to complete a full rotation around the sun – the human equivalent of a year. So on Venus, a day is longer than a year!
Secondly, Venus, along with Uranus, is one of the only planets in the solar system that moves in the opposite direction from the sun, a characteristic referred to as “retrograde rotation.” The reason that Venus rotates backwards in relation to most other planets is unknown, but it is believed that a collision with another planet or some other large body could have been the cause. Regardless, the sun rises every 117 Earth days on Venus, meaning the sun rises two times during each year, even though it is still the same day on Venus! It would probably be a strange day indeed.
Did you like this post? If so, you might enjoy these other articles from the Sporcle Blog:
- When the US Wanted to Nuke the Moon
- What Is a Blue Moon?
- Why Do People Think the Moon is Made of Cheese?
- 20 Interesting Astronomy Facts
Or, you can test your moon knowledge with some fun astronomy quizzes on Sporcle, like the one below!