Tour the solar system: Venus
In this installment of the "Tour the solar system" series, Senior Editor Richard Talcott explains why, beyond size and mass, Earth's nearest planetary neighbor is nowhere near a "twin" of our home planet.
Venus is the brightest object in our sky after the Sun and Moon, and it appears more than 10 times brighter than the brightest star, Sirius. Because Venus orbits closer to the Sun than Earth does, it never strays far from our star in the sky. It appears either in the western sky after sunset or in the east before dawn. This interior orbit also means that Venus shows phases when viewed through a telescope, just like the Moon. When Galileo first saw the phases of Venus through his early telescope, it provided strong support for the idea that the Sun was at the solar system’s center and not Earth.
Photo by NASA
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