Venus Has a Surprisingly Chilly Layer

Although similar in size to Earth, the planet-next-door Venus is typically perceived as a hellish inferno of caustic clouds, crushing pressures and kiln-like temperatures. And while those are indeed all very much the case, Venus has recently been found to have a cooler side too… although it’s 125 km (77 miles) up in its atmosphere….

Daytime Moon, Hello Venus!

What a weekend for sky gazing! As promised in Friday’s article on Universe Today, Venus was visible during the daylight hours this Saturday, very close to the crescent Moon. If you had clear weather you too may have been able to catch a glimpse of the scene above, photographed from my location in north Texas at…

A Varying Venusian Vortex

Our neighboring planet Venus really is a world of extremes; searing surface temperatures, crushing air pressure, sulfuric acid clouds…Venus pretty much pushes the envelope on every aspect of rocky-planet existence. And now here’s one more thing that made scientists do a double-take: a shape-shifting vortex swirling around Venus’ south pole! The presence of a cyclonic…

From the LITD Archives: But What About Venus?

Originally posted on April 7, 2009, only two months after Lights in the Dark launched: I haven’t posted anything yet about our other neighboring planet, Venus, mostly because the currently active mission exploring it, the European Space Agency’s Venus Express orbiter, hasn’t been updating much with new images since I’ve begun this site. Still, Venus…

Like Ships in the Night – Akatsuki Sails Right Past Venus

So close, but yet so far. In a poignant farewell, Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft returned this image of Venus as it sped off into space, its attempt at establishing orbit having failed on Wednesday, December 8. The $300 million scientific observatory was created to study the atmosphere of our neighboring planet, as well as use its…

Out of the Blue

Japan’s Akatsuki (PLANET-C) spacecraft, launched on May 20, captured this image of home as it sped away on its six-month journey to Venus. Using its ultraviolet camera Akatsuki (“Dawn” in Japanese) saw the crescent Earth as a bright electric blue from a distance of over 155,000 miles away, on May 21, 2010. Akatsuki (as well…

Send your message to Venus!

The AKATSUKI Message Campaign Next year, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will launch its Planet-C Venus Climate Orbiter, which will explore the atmosphere of Venus and investigate wind dynamics, cloud formation and other meteorological mechanics of Earth’s neighboring planet. And from now until December 25, you can register online to add your name and…

The Oceans of Venus?

It’s hard to imagine, with its pressure-cooked 800º baked-rock surface, but Venus may have once had oceans, suggests data from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express orbiter. Extensive infrared mapping of Venus’ southern hemisphere shows large areas of rock that appears to be granite. Granite, as we know it on Earth, is formed when basalt…

Will Worlds Collide?

According to a June 10 article in New Scientist, studies on the variable nature of planetary orbits have shown some valid possibilities of collisions in the future. (The very distant future, luckily for us.) Due to the nature of Jupiter’s massive gravitational pull on the inner planets, especially Mercury, their orbits are susceptible to incredible…

An Occult Event

  This past Thursday, April 23, skywatchers were treated to a special event: the moon occulting (hiding) Venus. During the early morning hours (exact time depending on location) the crescent moon passed across Venus, obscuring it from Earth’s view. This image was taken by David Cortner, a photographer in North Carolina. It shows a large-scale…

A Featureless Face

This photo taken by the Messenger spacecraft in June of last year shows the ghostly pale and nearly featureless face of Venus, our sister planet. Shot in visible light and RGB-calibrated by Gordan Ugarkovic, the global shroud of Venus’ oppressive (and corrosive) atmosphere lacks the swirling detail seen in most photos of the planet, which…

But What About Venus?

I haven’t posted anything yet about our other neighboring planet, Venus, mostly because the currently active mission exploring it, the European Space Agency’s Venus Express orbiter, hasn’t been updating much with new images since I’ve begun this site. Still, Venus deserves some attention, so here’s a quick byte of Venus info. Possibly the most inhospitable of…