Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Aprilis was sacred to Venus, the Roman goddess of love and fertility (in turn derived from the Greek Aphrodite). April may also derive in part from the Latin verb aperire, “to open,” indicating the flower-blooming season.

Venus is the only planet in our solar system where a day is longer than a year. A day on Venus is 243 Earth days, while a year is 224.7 Earth days.

Planet Venus has no moons – but over 1600 volcanoes.

The astronomical symbol for Venus is also used in biology for the female gender: a cross topped by a circle. Every culture that has spotted, charted and named Venus has described it in "feminine" terms.

Venus rotates clockwise – opposite to all the other planets; and with no tilt toward the sun, there are no “seasons.”

An average surface temperature of 465 degrees Celsius makes Venus the hottest of all the planets. Many assume Mercury must be warmer, since it is closer to the sun, but Mercury’s core cannot retain heat.

The first successful interplanetary mission was the U.S. Mariner 2, which passed the cloud tops of Venus in 1962.

Soviet spacecraft Venera 7 landed hard on the surface of Venus in 1970. While it’s parachute failed on approach, instruments survived for 23 minutes, and it became the first man-made probe to transmit data from the surface of another planet.

“I can tell from here what the inhabitants of Venus are like. They resemble the Moors of Granada; a small people burned by the sun, full of wit and fire, always in love, writing verse, fond of music, arranging festivals, dances, and tournaments every day.”
Bernard de Fontenelle, French Academy of Sciences, 1686