Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Venus from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Venus, the planet nearest to Earth, photographed from the Mariner 10 space probe in 1974. When the Sun was cooler Venus may have had oceans and life may have appeared, but as the Sun grew hotter the planet's surface became scorched and covered by dense clouds of carbon dioxide.

(Image © NASA)

articles

Venus (astronomy)


Summary Article: Venus
from Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

Venus, view of the northern hemisphere based on radar data from the Magellan spacecraft. Credit:NASA/JPL/Caltech (NASA photo # PIA00271)

Second major planet from the Sun. Named for the Roman goddess, Venus is, after the Moon, the most brilliant natural object in the night sky. Venus comes closer to Earth—about 26 million mi (42 million km)—than any other planet. Its orbit around the Sun is nearly circular at a distance of about 67 million mi (108 million km) and takes 225 days; its rotation, in retrograde motion, takes even longer (243 days). As viewed from Earth, Venus undergoes phase changes similar to the Moon’s, going through one cycle of phases in 584 days. It is seen only near sunrise or sunset and has long been known as both the morning star and the evening star. Venus is a near twin of Earth in size and mass but is completely enveloped by thick clouds of concentrated sulfuric acid droplets. Its surface gravity is about 90% that of Earth. Its atmosphere is over 96% carbon dioxide, with a pressure about 95 times Earth’s. The dense atmosphere and thick cloud layers trap incoming solar energy so efficiently that Venus has the highest surface temperature of any of the Sun’s planets, more than 860 °F (460 °C). Radar imaging indicates that the surface is dry and rocky, consisting mostly of gently rolling plains, broad depressions, and two large elevated regions analogous to continents on Earth; Venus also has impact craters, extensive lava fields, and massive shield volcanos. The interior is thought to be similar to that of Earth, with a metal core, a dense rocky mantle, and a less-dense rocky crust. Unlike Earth, Venus has no intrinsic magnetic field.

Place: Venus

Location: planet

Type: Physical Place

Related Place: Sun

Keywords: solar system, Sun, Venus, planet

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Copyright 1994-2017 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc

Related Articles


Full text Article Venus
The Encyclopedia of Global Warming Science and Technology

The planet Venus is known today as one of the most hellish environments anywhere, an example of what can happen to a planet in the grip of a...

Full text Article Mapping Venus
Atlas of the Universe

Topographic globes of Venus. Pioneer Venus 2 visited Venus in 1978. The mission involved an entry probe and a ‘bus’ which...

Full text Article Venus
Dictionary of Astronomy, Peter Collin Publishing

The second planet of the solar system, and the closest in size to the Earth, 82 per cent as massive as the Earth. Venus orbits the Sun in 225...

See more from Credo