Interesting facts about Venus

Did you know that Venus is upside down? Expand your mind with these top eight facts about Venus, the planet.

1. A day on Venus is longer than a year

It takes Venus longer to rotate once on its axis than to complete one orbit of the Sun. That’s 243 Earth days to rotate once - the longest rotation of any planet in the Solar System - and only 224.7 Earth days to complete one orbit of the Sun.

2. Venus is hotter than Mercury despite being further away from the Sun

Its mean temperature is 462°C. This is because of the high concentration of carbon dioxide in Venus’ atmosphere which works to produce an intense greenhouse effect, trapping heat in the atmosphere like a blanket and causing the temperature of the planet to be much higher than its proximity to the Sun would suggest.

Venus Phase Evolution © Roger Hutchinson Winner
Venus Phase Evolution © Roger Hutchinson Winner Planets, Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017

3. Unlike the other planets in our solar system, Venus spins clockwise on its axis.

All other planets spin anti-clockwise on their axis and orbit the Sun in an anti-clockwise direction. Venus also orbits the Sun anti-clockwise, but its unusual axis rotation is due to being upside down - it was knocked off its upright position earlier in its history! Astronomers believe that at some point, a colliding celestial body tilted Venus so far off its original position that it is now upside down. The only other planet to spin in a weird direction is Uranus which spins on its side, probably the result of another collision early on in its life.

4. Venus is the second brightest natural object in the night sky after the Moon

The clouds of sulfuric acid in Venus’ atmosphere make it reflective and shiny and obscure our view of its surface. It's brightness makes it visible during the day if it’s clear and you know where to look

Image of Heavenly Neighbours © Saber Karimi, shortlisted for Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017
Heavenly Neighbours © Saber Karimi, shortlisted for Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017

5. Venus has 90 times the atmospheric pressure of Earth

That’s about the same as the pressure at a depth of 1 km in Earth's oceans.

6. Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty

It is thought that Venus was named after the beautiful Roman goddess (counterpart to the Greek Aphrodite) due to its bright, shining appearance in the sky. Of the five planets known to ancient astronomers, it would have been the brightest.

7. Venus was the first planet to have its motions plotted across the sky, as early as the second millennium BC

Because Venus is easy to spot with the naked eye, it is impossible to say who discovered the planet. But over the centuries, we have been able to measure Venus’ motions, such as the rare transit of Venus when the planet appears from Earth to cross in front of the Sun.

Photograph of The Transit of Venus © Paul Haese, Astronomy Photographer of the Year Our Solar System Commended 2012
The Transit of Venus © Paul Haese, Astronomy Photographer of the Year Our Solar System Commended 2012

8. We tend to say ‘Venusian’ not ‘Venerian’

Following the rules of Latin, we should say ‘venerean’ as the adjective to describe things related to Venus. However, this is deemed to be too close to the word ‘venereal’. The more commonly used word is ‘Venusian’ despite its clunky etymology.

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