Venus Astronomical symbol of Venus
Venus in approximately true colour, a nearly uniform pale cream, although the image has been processed to bring out details.[1] The planet's disc is about three-quarters illuminated; almost no variation or detail can be seen in the clouds
A real-colour image taken by Mariner 10 processed from two filters, the surface is obscured by thick sulfuric acid clouds
PronunciationScript error: No such module "IPAc-en".
AdjectivesVenusian or (rarely) Cytherean, Venerean
Orbital characteristics
Epoch J2000
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  • 1.92 Venus solar day
583.92 days
35.02 km/s
Physical characteristics
Mean radius
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  • 0.902 Earths
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  • 0.866 Earths
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  • 0.815 Earths
Mean density
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  • 0.904 g
10.36 km/s (6.44 mi/s)[2]
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Equatorial rotation velocity
6.52 km/h (1.81 m/s)
2.64° (for retrograde rotation)
177.36° (to orbit)[note 1]
North pole right ascension
  •  18h 11m 2s
  • 272.76°
North pole declination
Surface temp. min mean max
Kelvin 737 K
Celsius 462 °C
Fahrenheit 864 °F
−4.92 to −2.98
Surface pressure
92 bar (9.2 MPa)
Composition by volume
  1. Defining the rotation as retrograde, as done by NASA space missions and the USGS, puts Ishtar Terra in the northern hemisphere and makes the axial tilt 2.64°. Following the right-hand rule for prograde rotation puts Ishtar Terra in the southern hemisphere and makes the axial tilt 177.36°.

Venus is the second planet from the sun.[3] It has a day longer than a year. The year length of Venus is 225 Earth days. The day length of Venus is 243 Earth days. It is a terrestrial planet because it has a solid, rocky surface like other planets in the inner solar system. Astronomers have known Venus for thousands of years. The ancient Romans named it after their goddess Venus. Venus is the brightest thing in the night sky except for the Moon. It is sometimes called the morning star or the evening star as at some elongations it is easily seen just before the sun comes up in the morning and, at other elongations, just after the sun goes down in the evening. Venus comes closer to the Earth than any other planet does.

Venus is sometimes called the sister planet of Earth as they are quite similar in size and gravity. In other ways the planets are very different. Venus' atmosphere (air) is mostly carbon dioxide with clouds of sulphuric acid.[4] Sulphuric acid is a chemical that is very poisonous to humans.

The thick atmosphere has made it hard to see the surface, and until the twenty-first century many people thought things might live there. The pressure on Venus' surface is 92 times that of Earth. Venus has no moons. Venus spins very slowly on its axis and it spins in the opposite direction to the other planets.

Physical Properties

File:Venus globe.jpg
Radar view of the surface of Venus (Magellan spacecraft)

Venus is a terrestrial planet so, like the Earth, its surface is made of rock. Venus is much hotter than Earth. All the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere acts like a blanket, trapping heat from the Sun. This effect is called the greenhouse effect and it is very strong on Venus. This makes the surface of Venus the hottest of any planet's surface in the Solar System with an estimated average temperature of 480 °C (896.0 °F).[5][6] This is hot enough to melt lead or zinc.


Venus has no oceans because it is much too hot for water. Venus' surface is a dry desert. Because of the clouds, only radar can map the surface. It is about 80% smooth, rocky plains, made mostly of basalt. Two higher areas called continents make up the north and south of the planet. The north is called Ishtar Terra and the south is called Aphrodite Terra. They are named after the Babylonian and Greek goddesses of love.[7]


Venus' atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas with clouds of sulphuric acid. Because the atmosphere is so thick or dense the pressure is very high. The pressure is 92 times the pressure on Earth, enough to crush many things.

It is impossible to see the planet's surface from space as the thick cloud layer reflects 60% of the light that hits it. The only way scientists are able to see it is by using infrared and ultraviolet cameras and radar.

Transit of Venus

Venus can sometimes be seen passing between the sun and earth. Venus looks like a black dot when seen through a special telescope. These passages are called "transits". These "transits" happen in pairs eight years apart. Then it's more than a hundred years to the next pair.

Related pages

References and Notes

  1. Lakdawalla, Emily (21 September 2009). "Venus Looks More Boring Than You Think It Does". The Planetary Society. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  2. "Planets and Pluto: Physical Characteristics". NASA. 5 November 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  3. in our Solar System
  4. "The Atmosphere of Venus".
  5. "Venus - an overview".
  6. "Temperature on the Surface of Venus".
  7. Batson R.M., Russell J.F. (1991), Naming the Newly Found Landforms on Venus, Abstracts of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, v. 22, p. 65

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