Why Venus Spins the Wrong Way
Oct 21, · In , Earth-based radar observations penetrated the cloud cover and were able to measure a rotation rate of days; more surprising is that Venus rotates on its axis in the opposite direction. Yes, Venus spins backwards compared to most of the other planets. It spins or rotates in the opposite direction that Earth rotates. This means that on Venus the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east. On Earth the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Venus also spins very slowly - .
Even though Venus isn't the closest planet to the sun, it is still the hottest. It has a thick atmosphere full of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and clouds made of sulfuric acid. The gas traps heat and keeps Venus toasty warm. In fact, it's so hot on Venus, metals like lead would be puddles of melted liquid. Explore Venus!
Click and drag to rotate the planet. Scroll or pinch to zoom in and out. Venus looks like a very active planet. It has mountains and volcanoes. Venus is similar in size to Earth. Earth is just a little bit bigger.
Venus is unusual because it spins the opposite direction of Earth and most other planets. And its rotation is very slow. It takes about Earth days to spin around just once. Because it's so close to the sun, a year goes by fast. It takes Earth days for Venus to go all the way around the sun. That means that a day on Venus is a little longer than a year on Venus.
Since the day and year lengths are similar, one day on Venus is not like a day on Earth. Here, the sun rises and sets once each day. But on Venus, the what is rar file and how do i open one rises every Earth days.
That means the sun rises two times during each year on Venus, even though it is still the same day on Venus! And because Venus rotates backwards, the sun rises in the west and sets in the east.
This is a combination of images taken by the Magellan spacecraft. The colors have been altered so you can see all the differences in Venus's surface.
Magellan used radar to get information about the surface of Venus, which we can't normally see because of the thick, cloudy atmosphere. All About Venus. Explore Other Planets. If you liked this, you may like: How Many Moons?
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Apr 08, · Venus is unusual because it spins the opposite direction of Earth and most other planets. And its rotation is very slow. It takes about Earth days to spin around just once. Jun 15, · Current theory holds that Venus initially spun in the same direction as most other planets and, in a way, still does: it simply flipped its axis degrees at some point. In other words, it spins. Oct 28, · Venus spins on its axis from east to west, while Uranus is tilted so far over, it's virtually spinning on its side. Every other planet, including our own, spins from west to east, and scientists haven't figured out why. The planets should really all be spinning the same way: our Solar System was formed by a collapsing and rotating cloud of gas, and it's thought that the spin direction of most planets (like .
Space offers plenty of mysteries for astronomers to solve, and there's one in our own Solar System that's been unexplained for decades: why are Venus and Uranus spinning in different directions to the other planets around the Sun? Venus spins on its axis from east to west, while Uranus is tilted so far over, it's virtually spinning on its side.
Every other planet, including our own, spins from west to east, and scientists haven't figured out why. The planets should really all be spinning the same way: our Solar System was formed by a collapsing and rotating cloud of gas, and it's thought that the spin direction of most planets like Earth has been carried over from that ancient rotation. But Venus and Uranus are the exceptions: they have what's known as retrograde rotation , spinning counter to the rotation of the Sun.
But how is this possible? One of the most long-standing hypotheses is that Venus and Uranus originally rotated counter-clockwise — like Earth and the other planets still do — but were struck at some point by massive objects perhaps other planets that sent them spinning in different directions.
In recent years, astronomers have looked for other explanations, examining Venus and Uranus independently. In , simulations suggested that a number of smaller collisions , rather than one big impact, knocked Uranus' spin to an angle of 98 degrees. This could also explain why the planet's moons rotate at the same angle — something that would be unlikely if there were just one massive hit. An alternative explanation put forward by astronomers in is that Uranus once had a large moon, the gravitational pull of which caused the planet to fall on its side.
Eventually, the moon could have been knocked out of orbit by another planet, a bit like a game of cosmic pinball. As for Venus, our closest neighbour, scientists have suggested that it started off rotating counter-clockwise, then slowed down to be almost static, before starting to spin clockwise like it does now. This might explain the planet's very slow rotation speed today — it takes Venus Earth days to rotate fully, but only Earth days to orbit the Sun.
So if you lived on Venus, your days would be longer than your years and the Sun would rise in the west. How does that happen to a planet? Astronomers think that the Sun's strong gravitational pull on the dense atmosphere of Venus; the atmospheric tides that would create; and the tidal pulls from other planets, could all have combined to reverse the planet's spin. This idea of tidal torques — where the dense atmosphere on the warm, Sun-drenched side of a planet is pulled away from the cold side — is one of the most well-established explanations for Venus' retrograde rotation, along with a planetary collision.
For now though, no one's percent sure what makes Venus and Uranus the odd ones out in our Solar System's family of planets. Our next close look at Venus should come from a flyby with the BepiColombo probe , which is eventually headed for Mercury and launching in