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Solar System

Venus

hottest planet, Eosphoros, Hesperus, evening star, Venus

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Venus (planet), second planet in distance from the Sun, but the hottest planet in the solar system (hotter than Mercury). Its hellish surface has broiling temperatures that make rocks glow red under a crushing atmosphere that shrouds the planet in thick layers of clouds. Venus is nearly the same size as Earth, but takes 243 days to rotate on its axis in the opposite direction. It also lacks a magnetic field and a moon. Why conditions on Venus and Earth are so different remains a major puzzle for planetary scientists. Venus circles the Sun at a distance of 108 million km (67 million mi) in a little over seven months (about 225 days). The planet was named for Venus, the Roman goddess of beauty.

Except for the Sun and the Moon, Venus is the brightest object in the sky. It is often called the morning star when it appears in the east at sunrise, and the evening star when it is in the west at sunset. In ancient times the evening star was called Hesperus and the morning star Phosphorus, Eosphoros, or Lucifer.

Contributors

Hunten, Donald M., Ph.D.

Regents Professor of Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona. Author of "Introduction to Electronics". Coauthor of "Theory of Planetary Atmospheres".



Article key phrases:

hottest planet, Eosphoros, Hesperus, evening star, Venus, sky, Lucifer, solar system, magnetic field, axis, sunrise, Mercury, sunset, moon, opposite direction, Earth, temperatures, distance, Sun, west, east, months, size, days, conditions

 
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