Planet Venus: 10 Fun Facts

Sister planet—and UFO?

July 8, 2019
Planet Venus

On June 30, 2015, Venus and Jupiter were close in western skies at dusk. 

NASA

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Discover 10 amazing facts about planet Venus, our neighbor! We call her sister planet, goddess of love, “morning star,” and—apparently—UFO! Read on …

Venus will not be visible in Earth’s sky in early July, 2019.  Like Earth, it orbits the Sun but it’s racing ahead of us and will soon be behind the Sun. We’ll see her again as a “morning star” in September. 

By September, Venus will have twice the brilliance it has now. When the Evening Star reaches its maximum brightness, well, that’s when Venus lights up the west like a searchlight, the first hours after nightfall.  See the Almanac’s rise and set times for Venus and all the planets.

Until then, we will miss our neighbor—and take the time to learn some cool Venus facts. 

  1. Venus is Earth’s closest neighbor in the solar system! She’s the second planet and sometimes called our “sister planet” since its diameter and density are nearly the same as ours. 

  2. Venus is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon, and sometimes looks like a bright star in the morning or evening sky.

  3. Venus’ creamy-white brilliance, from sunlight bouncing off shiny clouds of sulfuric acid, is oddly steady. She rarely twinkles.

  4. Yet, Venus is dazzling enough to cast shadows when seen from a dark place. Wait for the first half of September for this, when there will be no Moon to compete.

  5. We can’t see the surface of Venus from Earth, because it is covered with thick clouds. However, space missions to Venus have shown us that its surface is covered with craters, volcanoes, mountains, and big lava plains. 

  6. Despite the beautiful name, Venus is the most unpleasant planet in the known universe! Its surface temperature never varies from 850 degrees, hotter than a wood stove.  

  7. The air is 100% carbon dioxide, trapping in the sun’s heat like a blanket.  Venus manages to have a hotter surface than even Mercury. This was the original ‘greenhouse effect’ model long before that phrase’s current popularity.
     
  8. Venus’ atmosphere so thick it would crush you. The planet’s air pressure remains stuck at 90 Earth-pressures, making it the most efficient pressure-cooker in this neck of the galaxy. A few seconds would do it for beef stew.
     
  9. With clouds of sulfuric acid, Venus probably smells like rotten eggs!
     
  10. Venus is know as the goddess of love, sex, and beauty in Roman mythology. Sure. She’s melt you. Crush you. And she’s stinky. This is strictly a “look but don’t touch” affair.

See more amazing facts about Venus, Planet of Paradox.

This Year’s UFO?

Did you know: Venus alone accounts for more than half of all UFO reports. And they don’t all come from dimwits. My two favorite Venus stories:

  • Jimmy Carter, while Governor of Georgia, phoned the state police to report a UFO that proved to be Venus!
  • And a squadron of allied bombers returning from a mission over Japan in World War 2 saw a brilliant light that appeared to keep pace with them. Firing their guns, they attempted, without success, to blow up the Evening Star. At our Overlook Observatory phone and during public radio call-in shows, when someone begins a sentence with “I’ve been seeing a star….” I obnoxiously interrupt them with: “Venus!” 

Also, have you discovered my new podcast, Astounding Universe? It’s a free and freewheeling exploration of the cosmos. Join me! Listen and subscribe here: Astounding Universe.

About This Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s hub for everything stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe

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