Planet Venus – Locating Planet Venus with Your Telescope

Planet Venus exact discovery date is difficult to find out since it has been clearly seen with the naked eye and provided its brightness and size. However, Copernicus and Galileo Galilei initially observed the planet’s atmosphere by using the telescope. It was later verified by another astronomer Johann Schroter in 1790.

Formation of Planet Venus

According to a theory, it was formed some 4.5 billion years ago by pulling the gases and dust together to develop it.

The distance of Venus from the Sun

Venus – the second closest planet to the Sun after Mercury is at a distance of 108.2 million km – it receives sunlight in only 6 minutes. It has a radius of 6.051 km and is slightly smaller than the Earth.

The mass is 85% of the Earth’s mass. Hence it has a density very slightly lesser than the density of the Earth.

Phases of the Planet Venus

The ancient civilization divided Venus into two phases: The Mourning Star and the Evening Star. The reason was that they did not completely understand its orbit. It was visible only after sunset and before the sunrise.

The orbit of the Venus

The planetary orbit of Venus is elliptical and makes the closest proximity to the Earth at a distance of 41 million kilometers or 25 million miles. However, it spends most of the time away from the Earth.

Transit of the planet Venus

Venus does not cross the path between the Earth and the Sun. Hence, the transit of Venus involves the planet’s conjunction in the plane of Earth. The transit takes almost 243 years to complete its cycles.

Pentagram of the Planet Venus

The rhythm of Venus is very predictable when seen from the Earth’s central perspective. It takes the same place in the sky after a period of 8 years – and it happens on the same date.

Rotation of the Planet

Venus, unlike most of the planets of our solar system, moves in the opposite direction. We call it a “retrograde rotation.” It moves from East to West in a clockwise motion. One rotation of Venus completes in 243 days (as does Earth in 365 days). In this way, it has the slowest rotation of all planets.

It is said that Venus is getting slower with the passage of time – hence it has slowed up to 6.5 minutes. According to a hypothesis, the culprit is the Sun’s gravitation tends to slow down the rotation.

Structure of the Venus

Venus has a similar structure to the Earth. The core is approximately 3,200 kilometers in radius, and above the core – lies a layer of mantle composed of hot rocks. The surface is a thin crust that moves as the mantle inside the surface moves. In this way, a volcano is formed.

The upper surface of the Venus is smooth – having volcanic plains with ridges. Around 10% of the surface is smooth without any hills. Venus has two highland continents – one in the northern hemisphere known as Ishtar Terra while the other is in the southern hemisphere – and is known as the Aphrodite Terra.

The highest mountain is known as Maxwell Montes, having a peak of 7 miles, about the average surface elevation of the planet Venus. It also shows some small craters. However, Venus lacks the tectonic plates as are present in the Earth.

Atmosphere Around Venus

The atmosphere around Venus consists of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, sulfur dioxide. The thick clouds surrounding Venus are composed of 75 to 96% sulphuric acid droplets that contribute to the dense atmosphere that can trap the Sun’s heat.

Temperature Variations

The surface temperature of Venus is mostly higher than 465 degrees Celsius – which is enough to melt lead. Hence, human life on Venus is not possible at all. Maxwell Montes – the highest point on Venus, has a temperature of 380 degrees Celsius.

It might sound surprising, but the temperature remains the same during the daytime and the nighttime on Venus!

The magnetic field of Planet Venus

The magnetic field of Venus is much weaker than that of the Earth despite its same density. The main reason lies in the fact that the slow rotation of Venus induces much less magnetic field. Moreover, the Sun also influences the magnetic field, which is carried by the solar winds.

Since the innate magnetic field of Venus is significantly less, the solar winds tend to penetrate deeper into the exosphere (atmosphere) of the planet – thereby causing a significant loss of atmosphere.

Satellites or Moon

Some astronomers or space scientists believe that Venus has had a Moon once shattered by colliding into Venus itself.

Habitable to Support Human Life

About Venus – most scientists hold the notion that it was once a habitable planet. Some even consider that originally life started on Venus but was later shifted to the Earth. They believe so because Venus has shown signs of having oceans, which later dried.

Some speculations reveal that certain microorganisms, such as thermoacidophiles, can exist in the Venus atmosphere’s lower temperature layers.

Observing Venus with a Telescope

Provided that Venus has a thick atmosphere around it – and it is so close to the Earth that it reflects too much light to allow us to see it correctly. When trying to look through a reflective telescope, it appears a blob of light-producing so much glare.

To overcome the glare problem, you can use a Moon filter on the eyepiece of your telescope. Moreover, you will locate Venus somewhere low on the horizon – looking through haze and turbulence.

For such reasons, the amateurs usually observe Venus during the daytime to reduce the glare and to have a better picture.

Wrapping Up

We can not deny that it is not a piece of cake to observe Venus in the Sky – but challenging as may sound, interesting it actually is. Hence, you should give it a try and locate it with your reflective telescope, at least in the initial journey of your sky!