Venus is another well known planet. This is because it is the third brightest object in the sky, and first and second are held by the sun and moon, respectively. It’s brightness and pale complexion are the reasons that the Greeks named it after Aphrodite, which is the Greek equivalent of the Roman goddess of beauty, Venus. In alchemy, Venus was associated with the element copper.
Venus is often looked at in interest because it is about Earth’s size with a diameter of 12,102 km (.949 of Earth’s diameter), and yet is harshly uninhabitable. Even though Venus has a small atmosphere, it is filled with clouds, making the surface impossible to see. However, the interesting thing about these clouds is that they produce a greenhouse effect on Venus, making the temperature on the surface more than 900 degrees Fahrenheit (500 degrees Celsius). These clouds, composed of hydrofluoric and hydrochloric acid, also reflect light, which is one reason why Venus is so bright and pale. Also, day on Venus is actually longer than its year. A year on Venus is about 224 Earth days, while a day is 243 Earth days! Venus is one of three planets that rotates in the opposite direction of the Earth. It has an extremely slow east to west rotation.
Venus is probably the easiest planet to view, if only because it is the third brightest object in the sky at magnitude -4. Although it is an inferior planet (closer to the sun than Earth), it can be seen at times in complete darkness, not just at dawn and dusk the way Mercury is. In fact, the early Greeks saw Venus at dawn and dusk and thought that it was two different ‘stars’ before finally realizing that it was the same object.