In A Sky Filled With Stars
Venus Outshines Them All

venus and stars

Venus the planet of clouds is often referred to as the morning or evening star. That is because it's typically visible just before sunrise or just after sunset.

It is the second brightest object in the night sky after the moon and is the planet closest to size and distance.

The planet appears so bright because of the dense cloud cover. These clouds reflect a greater portion of sunlight making it incredibly luminous.

Unfortunately, these same clouds keep backyard stargazers from

seeing details of the planet's surface.

Radar images of the surface reveal it to have craters and a few volcanoes. The planet surface is believed to be fairly young as the impact craters are not very numerous.

When viewed through a telescope, or even good binoculars, you can view various phases like the Moon and Mercury. Nearly any telescope will show these phases easily.

When nearest to Earth, just to one side or the other of the Sun in our sky, a slender crescent phase that can actually be seen through 7-power binoculars is visible.

As it continues in its orbit, pulling away from Earth, it shrinks in apparent size, but broadens to a half phase.

Finally, it widens to a gibbous phase before moving behind the Sun. As the planet pops out from the other side and moves farther away from the Sun in our sky, the order of phases reverses.

To help reveal the phases, you can filter your telescope with colored filters to tone down the brightness.

The planet can be seen in the early morning as it moves away from Earth, and in the early evening as it draws nearer. Thus the morning or evening star appellation.

gibbous venus

It has an atmosphere that can be seen in a telescope by the halo of light refracted around the planet.

Because of the thick cloud cover this planet gets hotter than Mercury and is the hottest in the solar system... although Mercury is closer to the Sun.

The planet spins in a retrograde way compared to its orbit. Unlike the other planets Venus spins backwards and the sun rises in the west and sets in the east.

As with Mercury, it rotates quite slowly on its axis. The day is longer than a year. Rotating about once every 243 Earth days. A sidereal day lasts longer than a year (243 versus 224.7 Earth days).

However, because of the retrograde rotation, the length of a solar day is significantly shorter than the sidereal day. 

To an observer on the surface the time from one sunrise to the next would be about 116.75 Earth days making the Venusian solar day shorter than Mercury's 176 Earth days.

The planet also travels in a nearly circular orbit. All the other planets orbits are a lot more elliptical.

venus clouds

Smaller than Earth, but larger than either Mercury or Mars, Venus is the 6th largest planet in the Solar System. It also, like its near Sun neighbor Mercury does not have any moons.

› Venus
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