Venus Rising

Sun, 16 Jan 2011 12:07:19 +0000


One of my favorite artists is the great Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510). Venus was the name given by the ancient Romans to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. The Venusian symbol  The Venusian symbol, a circle with a small equal-armed cross beneath itis used by us to represent the feminine. Here’s Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” (c. 1486). I once découpaged an enlarged image of the two angels on the walltiles over the bathtub in my old townhouse….

Venus is also the name of the second planet from the Sun in our solar system. It orbits the Sun every 224.7 Earth days. After the Moon, Venus is the brightest natural object in the night sky.

We’ve seen photos of the Moon, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and even Phobos — the really strange looking moon of Mars which looks like a potato. But we’ve not been shown pics of the planet Venus like these recent NASA pics, at least not that I can recall.

Here they are. Pretty awesome….


Here’s what NASA says about these pics (h/t beloved fellow Igor):

This hemispheric view of Venus was created using more than a decade of radar investigations culminating in the 1990-1994 Magellan mission, and is centered on the planet’s North Pole. The Magellan spacecraft imaged more than 98 percent of the planet Venus and a mosaic of the Magellan images (most with illumination from the west) forms the image base. Gaps in the Magellan coverage were filled with images from the Earth-based Arecibo radar in a region centered roughly on 0 degree latitude and longitude, and with a neutral tone elsewhere (primarily near the south pole). This composite image was processed to improve contrast and to emphasize small features, and was color-coded to represent elevation. Gaps in the elevation data from the Magellan radar altimeter were filled with altimetry from the Venera spacecraft and the Pioneer Venus missions.

Now comes the let-down….

Here’e what Venus looks like in real color, almost uniformly a pale cream:

This is what Wikipedia says about the planet Venus:

Venus is classified as a terrestrial planet and it is sometimes called Earth’s “sister planet” due to the similar 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 in visible light. Venus has the densest atmosphere of all the terrestrial planets in our solar system, consisting mostly of carbon dioxide…. A younger Venus is believed to have possessed Earth-like oceans, but these evaporated as the temperature rose. Venus’s surface is a dusty dry desertscape with many slab-like rocks, periodically refreshed by volcanism. The water has most likely dissociated, and, because of the lack of a planetary magnetic field, the hydrogen has been swept into interplanetary space by the solar wind. The atmospheric pressure at the planet’s surface is 92 times that of the Earth.

An atmosphere mostly of carbon dioxide and a surface atmospheric pressure 92 times that of Earth’s. 

YIKES! Not exactly love and beauty, is it? LOL


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