VENUS


  • NAME
    The Goddess of love and beauty (Greek: Aphrodite)

  • ABOUT VENUS
    Venus has been called our sister world. It is similar in size
    but not much else. It's surface has long remained a mystery
    because the planet is perpetually covered with thick clouds.
    Early in the century, some suggested it would be a tropical
    garden. It is anything but a 'garden of eden'. Many U.S. and
    Russian space-probes quickly fell silent attempting a
    descent into it's hellish environment. It's atmospheric
    pressure is 90 times that of Earth. It's surface temperature
    is high enough to melt lead. This high temperature from
    it's CO2 atmosphere led to the 'greenhouse effect' theory.
    In 1975 the Russian Venera 9 spacecraft sent back photos of it's
    surface. To me the most interesting aspect of the photos was
    the way the 'heavy' atmosphere dramatically curves the
    horizon. The U.S. Magellan spacecraft began 'radar mapping'
    it's surface in 1990 and continued for several years. This has
    been our most detailed look at the planet.

    The greatest mystery is why the planet has no craters
    older than about 500 million years. Yet the craters there
    now are largely in pristine condition. Whatever process
    destroyed the older craters doesn't seem to be occurring
    at the present time. What is the process that removed the
    older craters? That is still being debated.

  • DISCOVERY DATE
    Antiquity

  • MOONS
    None

  • OBSERVING-NAKED EYE
    Perhaps one of the easiest objects to see. It is the brightest
    object in the sky apart from the Sun and Moon. It is the second
    planet out from the sun so it strays further from the Sun
    than Mercury. It can 'set' as much as four hours after the
    sun. Since it is bright and always low in a dark sky some
    mistake it for a UFO.

  • OBSERVING-TELESCOPE
    Through a small telescope the phases of the planet can easily
    be followed (Venus like Mercury is inside the earth's orbit, so
    it shows phases like our Moon). Some have claimed to see it's
    crescent phase with the naked eye. Little detail can be seen in
    it's clouds. At best, a few faint markings (more like slight
    variations in shade) can be seen.


A false color image of impact craters on Venus. The image is
created with radar data from the Magellan spacecraft (which can
penetrate the thick clouds).


An ultraviolet image from the Hubble Space Telescope showing
faint details in the Venusian clouds. The contrasts are higher
than they would appear visually. Through a telescope it looks
pretty much solid white.


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