Venus, the second planet from the Sun, is objectively a scorching hot ball of rock shrouded in a dense, toxic cloud layer. However, Venus is definitely a place worth getting to know with its baked volcanic landscape, crushing atmospheric pressure, skewed rotation, and exceptional luminosity. Read on to discover some interesting Venus facts.
Facts about Venus
1. Venus is the brightest planet and the second brightest object in the night sky.
Venus is also the third brightest object in the sky, after the Sun and the Moon. Venus is so bright that observers with acute eyesight can even spot it during the day. The best time to see Venus is before sunset or after sunrise.
The reason why Venus is so bright is that its atmosphere is filled with thick sulphuric acid clouds. Sunlight is reflected off these clouds, making them appear to shine.
2. Nobody knows who first discovered Venus.
If you’re wondering who discovered Venus, the problem is nobody really knows. No one can take credit for “discovering” Venus because the red planet is easily visible to the naked eye and has been observed since antiquity by the people of many different cultures.
3. Named after the ancient Roman goddess of beauty and love, Venus is the only planet named after a female.
Because Venus looks so radiant in the sky and shines the brightest among the planets, it was given the name of the Roman goddess of beauty and love.
4. Venus is a terrestrial planet.
Venus is one of the four terrestrial planets (along with Mercury, Earth, and Mars) meaning that it has a rocky, solid surface made up primarily of metals and silicate materials, and also has a dense metallic core.
5. Venus has the most circular (or least eccentric) orbit of all the planets in the Solar System.
Orbital eccentricity is the amount a planet’s orbit deviates from a perfect circle. If an orbit is a perfect circle, the planet’s eccentricity is zero and the more elliptical the orbit is its eccentricity increases.
Venus has an orbital eccentricity of 0.007 (Earth’s is 0.017), meaning it has an almost perfectly circular orbit. On average, Venus is 108 million km (67 million miles) from the Sun.
At its closest (perihelion), Venus is 107 million km (66 million miles) from the Sun. At its furthest (aphelion), Venus is just under 109 million km (68 million miles) from the Sun.
6. A day on Venus is longer than its year.
Yes, you’re not reading that wrong and this is one of the most unique Venus facts. The length of a day on a planet is the time it takes for the planet to rotate or spin once on its axis. Meanwhile, a year on a planet is the length of time that it takes for a planet to complete one orbit around the Sun.
With an orbital speed of 35.02 km/s, Venus takes 224.7 Earth days to complete one revolution around the Sun. However, on its axis, Venus rotates at a speed of 6.52 km/h, making it by far the slowest spinning planet in the Solar System. In comparison, Earth rotates at a speed of 1674 km/h.
Thus, due to its tardy rotational speed, Venus takes 243 Earth days (5,832.6 hrs) to spin once on its axis. Hence, a day on Venus lasts 243 Earth days while a year is 224.7 Earth days.
7. Venus is the most spherical planet in the Solar System.
Due to a combination of gravity, rotation, size, and density, no planet in the Solar System is a perfect sphere. Rather, all the planets are described as “oblate spheroids”, because they all bulge slightly around the middle.
How much a planet bulges out is called oblateness, or ellipticity. Venus has an oblateness value very near zero (Earth’s is 0.003). Thus, Venus is an almost perfect sphere and is the most spherical planet in the Solar System.
In case you’re wondering, Saturn is the most oblate, or flattest planet in the Solar System.
8. Like Uranus, Venus spins clockwise.
Venus is flipped upside-down meaning that its top point is its South Pole and vice versa. Thus, Venus, like Uranus, spins in retrograde rotation (east-to-west).
All other planets in the Solar System spin in a counter-clockwise fashion, while Venus and Uranus spin clockwise (as seen from above the North Pole). A Venus sunrise, therefore, occurs in the west and sunset in the east.
Oddly, due to its retrograde motion, a solar day (the time between sunrises) on Venus lasts 118 days
9. Venus has 95% of the diameter of Earth and 81.5% of its mass.
Of all the planets in the Solar System, Venus is the most similar to Earth in terms of size, mass, and composition. For this reason, Venus is often referred to as Earth’s “twin” or “sister planet.”
10. Venus’s atmosphere is mostly composed of carbon dioxide.
Venus’s dense atmosphere is quite hellish and is very different than the atmosphere on Earth. It consists mainly of carbon dioxide (~96.5%), while only containing about 3.5% nitrogen. This is in stark contrast to Earth’s breathable atmosphere, which contains primarily nitrogen (~78%) and oxygen (~21%).
The atmosphere of Venus also has trace amounts of hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfuric acid. These are extremely lethal chemicals that can either dissolve human flesh or poison our bodies.
Forget Hell, when you die, you don’t want to end up on Venus!
11. It takes exactly six minutes (360 seconds) for the Sun’s light to reach Venus.
Because Venus is closer to the Sun than Earth, it takes less time for sunlight to reach the planet as compared to Earth. It takes 8.3 minutes (499 seconds) for the Sun’s light to reach Earth.
12. Venus does not have any natural satellites.
Venus, with the exception of Mercury, is the only planet within our Solar System not to have a moon orbiting it.
13. Venus is the hottest planet in the Solar System.
One of the most interesting facts about Venus is that despite being nearly twice as far away from the Sun than Mercury and receiving only 25% of Mercury’s solar irradiance, it is still the Solar System’s hottest planet.
Venus’s thick, carbon-dioxide atmosphere traps the Sun’s heat, raising the ground temperature by an amplified greenhouse effect to almost three times what it would be without an atmosphere.
Thus, Venus’s mean temperature is a scorching 464° C (867° F). That’s hot enough to melt lead! Visiting Venus would be like landing inside of a superheated oven.
But at the level where its harshly acidic clouds reside, roughly 50 kilometers (30 miles) above Venus’s surface, temperatures are much milder.
14. The atmospheric pressure at the surface of Venus is about 92 times that of the Earth.
As if the surface temperature of Venus isn’t lethal enough, its atmospheric pressure is another feature that would be impossible to handle for any human.
At sea level on Earth, the air presses down on our bodies at 6.66 kg (14.7 lbs) per square inch or 1 bar; the surface pressure on Venus is a whopping 92 bar (~613 kg per square inch). A pressure 92 times that of the Earth’s atmosphere is equivalent to the pressure experienced at an ocean depth of about 953 meters (3,127 ft).
15. On Venus, there are no discernible differences between the seasons.
Planets experience seasonal variations based on the degree of their axial tilt (the measure of the angle between the planet’s rotational axis and a line perpendicular to its orbital plane). The greater a planet’s axial tilt, the more pronounced the seasonal changes as it allows the sun to heat the planet’s surface at different times during the year.
While Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees, Venus’s axial tilt is only 2.64° (since Venus is flipped 180° around its axis, technically, its axial tilt is 177.36 °). This lack of tilt means the planet’s surfaces receive a uniform amount of the Sun’s energy.
Though Venus experiences seasons, there is little change from one to the next. Seasons on Venus last a mere 55-58 days, as opposed to 89-93 days on Earth.
Despite its lack of seasonal variations, no other planet has weather patterns quite like Jupiter’s. Its atmosphere churns with colossal storms and is riddled with winds, lightning, and thunder, all of which are more powerful than anything experienced on Earth.
Surface winds on Jupiter can blow at over 600 kph (370 mph). and the planet experiences storms that can grow to thousands of kilometers in diameter in the space of a few hours.
16. If you weigh 100 kilograms (220 lbs) on Earth, you would weigh 90.5 kilograms (200 lbs) on Venus.
Venus’s surface gravity of 8.87 m/s2 is slightly lower than Earth’s surface gravity of 9.8 m/s2. This means that the surface gravity of Venus is 0.905 times the gravity on Earth. Hence, you would be slightly lighter on Venus than on Earth.
17. There is no liquid water on Venus.
Due to Venus’s hellishly hot temperature, the planet’s surface is super dry and contains no liquid water. The amount of water in Venus’s atmosphere is so low that even the most drought-tolerant of Earth’s microbes wouldn’t be able to survive on the planet.
18. Venus was the first planet (other than Earth) to be explored using a spacecraft.
On 14 December 1962, NASA’s Mariner 2 was the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of another planet when it successfully flew by Venus at a range of 34,854 kilometers (21,660 miles).
19. The first human-made object to land on another planet was on Venus.
The Soviet Union was the first and is still the only country to land a spacecraft on the surface of Venus. On December 15, 1970, an unmanned Soviet spacecraft, Venera 7, became the first spacecraft to land on another planet when it soft-landed on Venus’s surface.
Before that, another Soviet spaceship named Venera 3 had crashed into the planet in 1966. This was the first time anything man-made made contact with an extraterrestrial surface beyond the Moon.
20. The longest any human-made object has made it on Venus is 127 minutes.
Venus is so pernicious and so intolerable that even specially designed probes do not last long on its surface. The longest time a probe has lasted on Venus is a mere 127 minutes, a record set in 1982 by the Soviet spacecraft Venera 13.
The lander was designed to survive for only 32 minutes but thanks to its extremely rugged deep-sea submarine-like design, it managed to keep transmitting data for 127 minutes after it reached Venus’s surface.
21. Venus has more volcanoes than any other planet in the Solar System.
Out of all planets in the solar system, Venus has the most volcanoes. The surface of Venus is dominated by volcanic features and it is home to thousands of volcanoes.
But because Venus’s thick and hazy atmosphere obscures whatever may be happening on the ground, it is impossible to count the exact number of volcanoes and whether they are still oozing lava today,
22. The longest channel in the Solar System is on Venus.
The longest channel in the Solar System is Baltis Vallis, on the surface of Venus. Slightly longer than the Nile River, the sinewy channel is around 7,000 km (4,350 miles) in length and has an average width of around 1.6 km (1 mile).
Largely straight and narrow in shape, Baltis Vallis was once a raging river of molten lava.
23. Venus is not Earth’s closest planetary neighbor.
One of the most surprising Venus facts is that contrary to the popular notion it is not Earth’s closest planetary neighbor. The planet closest to Earth, at least on average, is actually Mercury.
This might seem impossible, but it makes sense when you think that every planet spends about half its time on the opposite side of the Sun. In Earth’s case, while Venus is the planet that comes closest to Earth it also spends plenty of time pretty far away.
Mercury is the planet that stays the closest to Earth the longest on average due to its tight orbit around the Sun.
24. Venus passes directly between Earth and the Sun in a rare event called a “transit.”
In astronomy, a “transit” takes place when a smaller body passes in front of a larger one.
The transit of Venus takes place when it passes directly between the Sun and Earth, becoming a silhouette against the bright face of the Sun. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun. As a result, sunlight dims by 0.1%.
Two transits of Venus occur over an eight-year period, but then it is more than a century before the next pair occurs. The last transits took place in 2004 and 2012 and the next transits will be in 2117 and 2125.
Historically, the Venus transits were of great scientific importance as they were used to realistically gauge the size of the Solar System.
25. Venus doesn’t have a global magnetic field.
In contrast to Earth, which has a global, dipolar magnetic field, there isn’t a global magnetic field on Venus. This indicates that the dynamo effect that causes magnetic fields on other planets is either missing, or the core of Venus is less convective and is already solidified.