The planet Venus derives its name from ancient Babylonians around 1600 BC associating it with the Goddess of love, and it is the only planet within our solar system named after a female figure. The original cultures to witness this planet actually believed it was two separate objects; one seen around sunrise and another at sunset referred to as the Morning and Evening Stars. Since Venus appearance wise is very similar to the Earth in size and shape it is often referred to as our sister planet, even though until this past decade very little was known about Venus or its surface. A thick layer of sulfuric clouds reside within Venus’s upper atmosphere that light cannot penetrate, making visibility and research from abroad near impossible. It is thought to be the densest atmosphere of all the planets within our solar system, and therefore possibly the least likely place for humanity to colonize. It is also one of the brightest objects within the sky around sunrise and sunset each day, and countless reports across the world have mistaken Venus for a UFO or other rare celestial object.
Whether or not we can live on Venus is almost inconsequential to scientists though, because our solar twin still holds many answers that could possibly further explain the Earth’s future. Although the planet is currently very different from our own, research indicates that at its formation Venus had several striking similarities to our home. Water was once abundantly present across the planet, and the planet’s core is believed to contain a crust and a mantle that is partially liquid just like our own. Venus’s current surface is made up of mountainous regions and valleys commonly found on rocky planets, but what was unexpected was the sheer number of flat, volcanic areas that have dominated the planet’s geographical makeup. Venus’s thick atmosphere provides ample protection from meteors and asteroids, and experts believe that even giant planetary strikes are broken down into small enough pieces to avoid the serious scarring we see from impacts on other planets. For every question that has been answered regarding Venus two more have been presented, making this planet a popular conversation piece among astronomers. Several future missions to study the planet in further detail have already been planned by the United States, Russia, and Japan.
What is actually known about Venus makes for an interesting astrological study. The planet completes a full orbit around the Sun every two hundred twenty-four days in almost a perfect circular pattern, which is approximately one third faster than the Earth’s trajectory. It rotates once on its axis every two hundred forty-three days, which by practical terms means a day on Venus last longer than what we would define as a year. The planet also appears to be much younger than the Earth, and scientists predict its age to be around 1 billion years old. Why this planet formed over three billion years after Earth may indeed be the greatest mystery in itself, and the answer may provide clues as to why it turned out so very different from our own planet.