Venus is the second planet from the sun after Mercury. The planet was named by the Romans who observed the sky and the planets. According to the Romans, the sky was comprised of seven bodies that shone the brightest; five planets, the moon and the brightest being the sun. They were thus named after the gods that they revered the most. Venus is the only planet to be named after a female god, the goddess that symbolized beauty and love because it was the brightest planet known to ancient astronomers.
The Brightest Planet
Venus is sometimes referred to as the evening star and for good reason. The Romans were quite accurate in labeling Venus as the brightest planet, the only other object in the entire galaxy brighter than Venus is the moon. In fact, on a clear day, there have been sightings of Venus during the day.
Rotation of Venus
Rotation of a planet is defined as the movement or spinning around its axis. The planets of the solar system orbit the Sun in a counterclockwise direction with the exception of Venus which rotates clockwise. Astronomers and space scientists have cited collision with an asteroid as a possible reason which could have changed the path of rotation for Venus. Since rotation causes night and day, the sun would, therefore, rise in the west and set in the east on Venus.
The Hottest Planet
Theoretically Mercury should be the hottest planet since it is closest to the sun, however, temperatures on the surface of Venus are much higher. This is because it has a very dense atmosphere which is composed of about 96% carbon dioxide. The carbon in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect similar to the one on earth that traps a very high amount of heat.
Similarities with Earth
Our planet is the third from the sun after Venus and shares a few similar characteristics in this regard. Earth and Venus are almost the same physical size with Venus having about 81% of Earth’s total mass. Venus and Earth are two of the four terrestrial planets. Both of their internal composition is made up of a crust and a central core.
Exploration of Venus
Due to the harsh temperature on the surface of Venus, exploration has faced a number of challenges, especially the short life of equipment on the planet. However, NASA and other space exploration agencies around the world have continued to develop space vehicles to probe Venus. Initially it was thought that Venus could be habitable. However, the dense atmosphere composed primarily of carbon dioxide as well as lack of water seems to disapprove this. It is, however, thought and widely believed among scientists that Venus used to have oceans which eventually disappeared as a result of the extreme heat.
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