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Venus

Subject:

Science  

Grades:

5, 6  

Mercury  Venus  Earth  Mars  Jupiter  Saturn  Uranus  Neptune  Pluto

Venus

Classification
Using the classification based on size, Venus is one of the small planets. Mercury, Earth, Mars and Pluto are also classified as small planets. All of these planets have diameters less than 13000 kilometers. The other planets are classified as gas giants.

Where is It?
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, located in between Mercury and Earth. The orbit, or path, Venus follows around the Sun is nearly circular, so the planet’s distance from the Sun averages about 105 million kilometers.

How Did It Get Its Name?
Venus was named for the goddess of love and beauty. However Venus is a very unpleasant place, with winds that blow hundreds of kilometers. an hour, and temperatures that are hot enough to melt most metals.

How long are its years and days?
Being closer to the Sun, a Venerian year is just 225 days. Venus spins more slowly than Earth, so a day on Venus is 243 days, which means that a day on Venus is longer than it’s year.

How Big Is It?
Venus is almost the same size as Earth, with a diameter of about 12100 kilometers.

Can It Be Seen From Earth?
Venus can be seen for several months each year, either in the morning or evening sky without a telescope. Venus is called both the morning and evening star, and ancient astronomers thought it was two different objects. When it is visible, Venus is the second-brightest object in the sky, being outshone only by the Moon.

What Is It Made Of?
Venus is one of the solar system’s rocky planets, along with Earth and Mercury. The planet has an iron core, which is covered by a rocky layer. This rocky layer has a lot of lava, which has been generated by the many volcanoes on its surface.

What Is It Like on The Surface?
Venus is an extremely unpleasant place. The bright white light seen from Earth is a result of sunlight being reflected off the clouds that completely cover the planet’s surface. These clouds are made of sulfuric acid, which is an extremely dangerous substance. The average temperature on Venus is around 480 degrees Celsius, which is hot enough to melt lead. Also, the clouds on Venus have created at atmosphere that is the same as being 800 meters underwater on Earth. The air pressure would be enough to crush some submarines. Finally the winds on Venus are almost always faster than a tornado, averaging around 380 kilometers. per hour. The few spacecraft that have managed to land on Venus have lasted less than an hour before the heat and air pressure have melted and crushed them.

For this reason, a lot of what is known about the surface of Venus has come from spacecraft that have studied the planet from a safe distance. Some of the planet’s surface has been mapped using radar telescopes on Earth. Venus has a surface that has many mountains (some higher than Mount Everest), volcanoes and plains filled with lava.

Does it have any special features?
Venus rotates from East to West, which is just the opposite of Earth and most of the other planets.

Resources Used
Astronomy for Kids www.dustbunny.com/afk/
Small Worlds David Drew: Nelson, 1989
The Gas Giants David Drew: Nelson, 1989

Solar System Unit  |  Classification  |  Glossary

Images from: Astronomy Picture of the Day

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