Venus Facts

  • Venus is the second planet out from the Sun — its orbit makes it 107.4 million km away at its nearest and 109 million km away at its furthest.
  • Venus shines like a star in the night sky because its thick atmosphere reflects sunlight amazingly well. This planet is the brightest thing in the sky, after the Sun and the Moon.
  • Venus is called the Evening Star because it can be seen from Earth in the evening, just after sunset. It can also be seen before sunrise, though. It is visible at these times because it is quite close to the Sun.
  • Venus’s cloudy atmosphere is a thick mixture of carbon dioxide gas and sulphuric acid.
  • Venus is the hottest planet in the Solar System, with a surface temperature of over 470 °C.
  • Venus is so hot because the carbon dioxide in its atmosphere works like the panes of glass in a greenhouse to trap the Sun’s heat. This overheating is called a runaway greenhouse effect.
  • Venus’s thick clouds hide its surface so well that until space probes detected the very high temperatures some people thought there might be jungles beneath the clouds. 90
  • Venus’s day (the time it takes to spin round once) lasts 243 Earth days.
  • Because Venus rotates backwards, the sun comes up twice during the planet’s yearly orbit — once every 116.8 days.
  • Venus is the nearest planet to Earth in size, measuring 12,102 km across its diameter.