28 February, 2011

Venus.....The Star of Dawn & Dusk

Venus is the second planet from the Sun and according to the size, the sixth largest of all. It is named after the Roman goddess of love, beauty and fertility who plays a key role in many mythological Roman religious festivals. Some people are of the view that ancient people named it after the Roman goddess of love and beauty because it shines much more brightly than all the other planets in the solar system. After the moon, it is the second brightest natural object in the night sky. If you want to observe Venus on the night sky, you must find it in the western sky in the evening and at other times in the per-dawn eastern sky. This is why some people name it Morning and sometimes evening star. Some also call it Dawn and Dusk star.

Sometimes people call it earth's sister planet because on one hand it is about the same size as our earth and on the other hand it is very much similar to earth. Some astronomers are of the view that earth and Venus were twin planets in the beginning but separated later.
Although Venus is the closest planet to Earth, it is difficult to study because almost all of its surface is completely covered by a thick layer of opaque clouds. This dense layer of clouds  does not allow much sunlight to reach its surface. They also play an important role in keeping its surface very hot. Now the question is from where does the heat come when there is a considerably thick layer of clouds covering its surface from all sides. Answer to this question lies in the great number of active volcanoes covering its surface. whats more surprising is more than 80 % of its surface is covered with smooth volcanic plains which is enough to increase its temperature up to 464 degrees Celsius. The highest clouds, by contrast, have a daily range of 25 to  -149C.
Of all the members of the solar system, Venus is also closest to Earth in size. In fact, Earth and Venus were once regarded as sister planets. Some scientists and astronomers have suggested that Venus could support some form of life, perhaps in the clouds around it. However, its atmosphere is not suitable for human life as people can not breathe on it.
It completes its one orbit around the sun in about 224.7 Earth days
Until now Several spacecraft have visited it and sent back information about its surface and the clouds around it. The journey of research on Venus started with Mariner 2 in 1962 but most of its secrets were revealed in 1990-91 in Project Magellan. According to some the planet is about 300 to 600 million years old Away from the space probes The immensely powerful Hubble Space Telescope has also provided considerable information about the planet.

With the help of images sent back by Hubble Space Telescope Scientists have come to know that the surface of Venus is marked with hundreds of large meteor craters. These craters suggest that since the planet come into being, its surface has changed in a different way from Earth's surface. Earth has only a few large craters that are easy to recognize while the number of craters on Venus is considerably large.
Venus is different from Earth in another way too. Our earth has got a moon while we don't find one around Venus.
Scientists have classified it in the list of terrestrial planets, which means it is one among the planets similar to our earth. Away from its size and rocky surface, its gravity is also almost equal to our earth. Its diameter is only 650 km less than earth while mass is 81 % of our earth. 

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