Venus

Contributor: Rebecca Highland. Lesson ID: 10355

Ever see the "morning" and "evening" stars? They are not stars but planets! Venus is the most famous "morning" star. Look at beautiful pictures and use online sources to learn about our "twin" planet!

categories

Space Science and Astronomy

subject
Science
learning style
Visual
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Venus, or as I like to call it, Earth's evil twin. Would you like to know why? Take a look at this lesson to find out what similarities this planet shares with Earth, and what makes it different.

Venus is a pretty unusual planet.

It is so weird, I like to refer to it as Earth’s "evil" twin, but it isn't truly evil; it just has some characteristics that make it impossible for living things to call it "home."

Similarities:

Earth shares many features with Venus. Earth is about the same size as Venus, only a tiny bit smaller. Venus also looks a bit like Earth on the surface. It has mountain ranges just like we do. Venus also has almost identical gravity as Earth, so you would move and weigh about the same on both planets.

Venus compared to Earth

Image by Jack, via Wikimedia Commons and cropped, is in the public domain.

Differences:

However, Venus is also very different. In all the ways that Earth is miraculously able to support life, Venus is the opposite.

  • First of all, Venus has an atmosphere just like Earth has one, but Venus’ atmosphere is very different from Earth’s. It is so thick, scientists have a hard time seeing through it to study the surface of Venus. Any tools scientists send to Venusthat try to make it to the surface burn up very quickly, so gathering information about Venus is difficult. The air on Venus is almost all carbon dioxide, which humans and many other living things cannot breathe, so it would be impossible for us to live there.

  • Venus is SO hot. It is the hottest planet. It is even hotter than Mercury, which is closest to the sun. The thick atmosphere traps heat inside, making the temperature over 860 degrees Fahrenheit!

  • Venus has really long days. Because the rotation of Venus is so slow, one day on Venus is 243 days on Earth!

  • Like the moon, Venus has phases where half of the planet is in total darkness. This depends on how the planet is facing the sun.

  • Venus rotates backwards compared to every other planet in our solar system. This is called spinning in retrograde. Scientists still are not sure why this happens!

  • Lastly, Venus has volcanoes, and they erupt all the time.

Now we know that even though Venus looks a lot like our planet, we are better off sticking to the habitable atmosphere on Earth.

Venus isn’t all bad, though! The thick atmosphere makes Venus incredibly bright in our night sky. It is bright enough that you can see it without a telescope if you get the timing right! The best time to see Venus is after sunset or just before sunrise. Venus is a bright and beautiful planet, but it is definitely not the best place for a vacation.

Look how beautiful Venus is up close as captured by Mariner 10:

Venus from Mariner 10, 1974

Image by NASA, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

On the surface, Venus looks a lot like a desert.

Venus surface

Image by Banco de Imágenes Geológicas, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

This is because any water that might have been on Venus has been gone a long time! It is very dry and very, very hot. The probe that took this photo, a Russian mission called Venera 13, was destroyed by the heat in a mere two hours on Venus.

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