Sunday, April 18, 2010

Facts About Venus

As the second planet to the Sun in the solar system, it is a closest neighbor to the Earth. Known commonly as Morning or Evening star, Venus appears in the sky just before sun rise or just after sun set. It is brighter than stars and can be seen in broad daylight also. It is called an inferior planet in that it is closer to the sun than the Earth. The planet is named after the roman goddess of love and beauty.

Venus is known as the Earth's "twin" because the two planets are so similar in size. The diameter of Venus is about 7,520 miles (12,100 kilometers), approximately 400 miles (644 kilometers) smaller than that of the Earth. No other planet comes nearer to the Earth than Venus. At its closest approach, it is about 23.7 million miles (38.2 million kilometers) away.

As seen from the Earth, Venus is brighter than any other planet or even any star. At certain times of the year, Venus is the first planet or star that can be seen in the western sky in the evening. At other times, it is the last planet or star that can be seen in the eastern sky in the morning. When Venus is near its brightest point, it can be seen in daylight.

The surface of Venus is extremely hot and dry. There is no liquid water on the planet's surface because the high temperature would cause any liquid to boil away. The temperature of the uppermost layer of Venus's clouds averages about 55 degrees F (13 degrees C). However, the temperature of the planet's surface is about 870 degrees F (465 degrees C), higher than that of any other planet and hotter than most ovens.

Venus shows plenty of evidence for volcanism everywhere across its surface. Some volcanoes are very large, while some are very small. Small volcanoes can cluster in the hundreds into “shield fields,” which have no equivalent on Earth. (Volcanoes on Earth form roughly linear patterns.) All over Venus, locally low topography appears to be filled with layer upon layer of broad lava flows. While some are small, many lava flows appear to have spread for hundreds or even thousands of kilometers across the surface before solidifying. Even with Venus’ high surface temperature and pressure, it is a great mystery how lava could remain so fluid for enough time to flow such a long distance on the surface.

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