WTF Fun Fact 13677 – A Day on Venus

A day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus. Yes, you read that right. But before your brain does a somersault trying to wrap itself around this fact, let’s break it down into bite-sized chunks.

A Long Day on Venus

First off, let’s talk about planetary rotation. A rotation is how long it takes for a planet to spin once around its axis. For Earth, that’s what gives us a 24-hour day. Venus, on the other hand, takes its sweet time. It rotates once every 243 Earth days.

That’s right. If you were standing on Venus (ignoring the fact that you’d be crushed, suffocated, and cooked), you’d experience sunlight for about 116.75 Earth days before switching to an equal length of pitch-black night. That’s one slow spin, making its day extraordinarily long.

Orbiting on the Fast Track: Venus’s Year

Now, flip the script and consider how long it takes Venus to orbit the Sun, which is what we call a year. Venus zips around the Sun in just about 225 Earth days. This is where things get really interesting. Venus’s year (its orbit around the Sun) is shorter than its day (one complete rotation on its axis).

Imagine celebrating your birthday and then waiting just a bit longer to witness a single sunrise and sunset.

The Why Behind the Sky: Understanding the Peculiar Pace

So, why does Venus have such an unusual relationship with time? It all comes down to its rotation direction and speed. It’s is a bit of a rebel in our solar system; it rotates clockwise, while most planets, including Earth, rotate counterclockwise. This is known as retrograde rotation.

Scientists have a few theories about why Venus rotates so slowly and in the opposite direction. One popular theory is that a massive collision early in the planet’s history could have flipped its rotation or altered it significantly. Another theory suggests gravitational interactions with the Sun and other planets over billions of years have gradually changed its rotation speed and direction.

Regardless of the cause, Venus’s leisurely pace and quirky orbit give it the unique distinction of having days longer than its years. This fact not only makes Venus an interesting topic of study for astronomers but also serves as a fascinating reminder of the diversity and complexity of planetary systems.

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Source: “Interesting facts about Venus” — Royal Museums Greenwich

WTF Fun Fact 12783 – The Rotation of Venus

The rotation of Venus on its axis is very slow.

For those who need a refresher in astronomy, the planets in our solar system rotate in two ways 1) on their axis (spinning in place, basically – which makes one day), and 2) around the sun (which makes a year).

What’s unique about the rotation of Venus?

Planets rotate around the sun with regularity, but when it comes to spinning on their own axis, that’s a different story. And astrophysicists have long wondered why Venus’ rotation is so slow.

According to (cited below): “Venus orbits the sun at about two-thirds of the distance between our planet and the star. Shrouded in a dense and toxic atmosphere of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid, the planet suffers from a runaway greenhouse effect that pushes temperatures on its surface to life-preventing 900 degrees Fahrenheit (475 degrees Celsius). And something else is odd about this world: While Venus completes its orbit around the sun in 225 Earth days, it takes 243 Earth days for the planet to spin around its axis.”

Why Venus take so long?

But that still doesn’t answer the question about why Venus is so slow to rotate on its axis. However, a study in Nature Astronomy by astrophysicist Stephen Kane at the University of California gives us some new insight. Kane believes that the planet’s thick, stormy atmosphere interferes with axial rotation. Venus’ atmosphere blocks the sun’s energy from leaving the planet.

Kane said in a statement: “We think of the atmosphere as a thin, almost separate layer on top of a planet that has minimal interaction with the solid planet. Venus’ powerful atmosphere teaches us that it’s a much more integrated part of the planet that affects absolutely everything, even how fast the planet rotates.”

Rethinking the role the atmosphere plays on a planet may eventually help us rethink the way we look at the solar system. In other words, we’ll have to acknowledge that not all planets can be viewed from the perspective of the way things work on Earth. Go figure.

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Source: “Why is a day on Venus longer than a year? The atmosphere may be to blame.” —