Monday 29th November to Sunday 5th December 2021
Venus was the Roman goddess of love. It is also the name of the second planet in our Solar System. Venus is sometimes described as our "sister planet" because it has a similar size and mass to the Earth.
Venus is certainly beautiful to observe - it is the brightest object in the night sky next to our Moon and a telescope will reveal that it has different phases, just like the Moon.
However, that's where any connection between Venus and love stops! Venus has a thick toxic atmosphere of Carbon Dioxide with clouds of Sulphuric acid. The clouds trap heat and the surface temperature is around 475 degrees Celsius. This results in very high atmospheric pressure - about 90 times that of the Earth or the equivalent to being a mile under the ocean! So if you travelled to Venus in your spaceship, you would be eaten by acid, cooked and crushed to death, but not necessarily in that order! Lovely!!
Next week you can observe Venus from the safety of your back garden though as the planet is currently at its brightest. Look towards the south west just as it's getting dark and the planet will be setting in a line with Saturn and Jupiter above and to the left of it. Using a telescope will reveal a wonderful crescent shape, but if you're doing that, please make sure that your telescope is not pointing anywhere near the setting Sun - please wait until the Sun has completely disappeared below the horizon!
Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2021