Venus Venus symbol
Location Sol System II
Diameter 12,104 km
Temperature 482°C
Distance from Sun 0.7 AU
Satellites 0

Venus is the second planet of the Sol System. It is the brightest natural object in the night sky, except for the moon, and reaches its maximum brightness shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset -- for which reason it is often called the Morning Star or the Evening Star.

Classified as a terrestrial planet, it is sometimes called Earth's sister planet, for the two are similar in size, gravity and bulk composition. Venus is covered with an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, preventing its surface from being seen from space. It has the densest atmosphere of all the terrestrial planets, consisting mostly of carbon dioxide. As it has no carbon cycle to lock carbon back into rocks and surface features, nor organic life to absorb it in biomass, it has become so hot that the Earth-like oceans which the young Venus is believed to have possessed have totally evaporated -- leaving a dusty, dry desertscape with many slab-like rocks.

T'im's Torquo-ball, launched on 16 October 2146, is available in ten spiffy designs based on the planets including Mars, Venus and Jupiter.

Venus in fiction

Until probes reached the planet in 1967, it was believed that Venus was a tropical planet -- hot and misty, covered with rainforests, swamps and oceans -- and early science fiction novels envisage all manner of unusual lifeforms, from quasi-dinosaurs to intelligent carnivorous plants.

  • H. P. Lovecraft and Kenneth Sterling's In the Walls of Eryx (1939) takes place on a muddy jungle Venus inhabited by lizard-men.
  • In Ray Bradbury's "Death-by-Rain" (1950), a short story later published as "The Long Rain" in the 1951 short story collection The Illustrated Man, four astronauts search for a man-made shelter, called a "sun dome", on the surface of Venus, as it never stops raining.
  • In Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth's The Space Merchants (1953), Venus is portrayed as a steamy jungle world, on which a former executive is enslaved on a Chlorella plantation.
  • In Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus (1954), a juvenile novel, Venus is covered by a worldwide ocean with human colonies located on the seafloor.
  • In Poul Anderson's 1954 novella The Big Rain, Venus is a harsh, waterless world under a brutal dictatorship.
  • Stephen King's short story "The Cursed Expedition" (1960) detailed a Venus that was alive and ate starships.
  • In Larry Niven's "Becalmed in Hell" (1965), a spaceship exploring the atmosphere of Venus lands to fix a problem. This was one of the earliest stories to reflect the newer understanding of Venus' high surface temperatures.