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It Came from Venus

It Came from Venus

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Although the texts and the monuments which have survived give us a full idea of the materials used in sculpture, they tell us little about the methods of working them.

Classical literature provides almost no information on the subject, and votive inscriptions still less; finds of tools are rare, and so are depictions of sculptors at work.

And it is not easy to interpret the depictions that do exist. For instance, the bottom of a cup now in Copenhagen, dating from the earliest period of red-figure pottery late sixth to the early fifth century , shows a sculptor carving a herm, and the two outer sides of a cup now in Berlin depict several bronzesmiths working around a furnace, while others are finishing off a large statue.

Such sparse information is complemented chiefly by what study of the works themselves can tell us. Moreover, technique varied from period to period.

We know that solid bronze casting and hammering was the practice in ancient times, and that subsequently the technique known as cire perdue or "lost wax" casting became widespread - some of the moulds used in casting have survived.

The completed work was then artificially patinated. As for the techniques of working stone, particularly marble, the unfinished sculptures which have come down to us in considerable numbers - such as the relief from a house at Delos - retain tool marks and so provide information about the intermediate stages of carving.

Many examples throughout antiquity show that it was common to use additional sections for projecting parts such as outstretched arms as with the Archaic korai of the Acropolis or the male organ.

Work in marble was finished by polishing with wax or encaustic, a process called ganosis, in the same way as bronzes were finished by patination.

Even in Archaic times sculptors were very skilful: We may set beside this the famous achievement of Telekles and Theodoros, who made the statue of Pythian Apollo at Samos in two halves, fitting them together when they had finished the work.

The sculptor does not simply practise an art - in sociological terms he also exercises a craft. Here again there are great gaps in our knowledge.

We may assume that it was not Phidias's own idea to create the chryselephantine statue of Zeus at Olympia; dedications regularly confirm that patrons commissioned works, although the details of the procedure are usually vague.

We do not often get even as much information as is provided by a decree of Delos in the third century, which tells us that "Telesinos of Athens was commissioned by the people to make the statues of Asklepios and Queen Stratonice, and he made the people a present of them, having executed the statue of Asklepios in bronze and the statue of the Queen in marble, and at no charge he also saw to the preservation and restoration of all the statues in the sanctuary which required it.

Literary tradition mentions several competitions: The artists who competed gave Polyclitus the verdict over Phidias and Kresilas, and on that basis modern criticism rather fruitlessly endeavours to attribute the wounded Amazons in our museums to one or other of those sculptors.

Similarly, the story goes that Phidias and Alkamenes were each required to make an Athena to stand on a tall column.

To correct the optical effect such a height would produce, Phidias gave the goddess a large head which shocked viewers when they first saw it, while Alkamencs, respecting the natural proportions of the body, drew high praise at first, but then laughter when his statue was put in place on top of its column.

These stories of rivalry, however authentic, are complemented by accounts of collaboration; the most famous case is the Mausoleum which Artemisia, wife of the Carian ruler Mausolos, commissioned at Halikarnassos mid-4th-century BCE.

Pliny tells us that Skopas, Bryaxis, Timotheos and Leochares worked together on the carving of its decoration. Skopas was from Paros and the other three sculptors were from Athens.

In all the cases just cited, we find sculptors working outside their native cities. Votive dedications confirm this mobility: For instance, we have seven signatures of Thoinias who describes himself as from Sicyon: However, it was not essential to travel: This was because Delos had a large, prosperous population, providing sufficient custom.

Sculptural Commissions in Ancient Greece Getting commissions was the important factor. The market had its ups and downs.

The great building works eventually undertaken by Pericles on the Acropolis after its total destruction by the Persians in BCE are a good illustration.

The accounts of the expenses for the Erechtheion frieze have come down to us, engraved on marble; they describe the payment of fees to sculptors for carving various additional figures, as follows: The accounts go on for several columns.

But work on this scale could not last indefinitely, and in any case the decline of Athens, sucked dry by the Peloponnesian War, put an end to it.

All those obscure sculptors whose pay is recorded in the accounts were now out of work, and it is very probable that they had recourse to what we might now call "retraining": Sculptors employed on public works had to switch over to the private sector, and it seems likely that pressure from such unemployed craftsmen contributed to a disregard for the sumptuary law which the piety or vanity of the bereaved in any case predisposed them to infringe.

If so, it is not surprising that the funerary stele of Dexileos rivals the reliefs of horsemen on the Panathenaic frieze.

Commissions mean fees, but again, there is very little information about sculptors' financial status. However, the pay seems quite good if we remember that 60 drachmae for a statue is times the sum of the two obols paid at the same period to judges as their daily fee.

It is true that the judges' fee must have been very low, since it was also the daily allowance made to the needy a little later. But in the next century Menander says that a man can live on twelve drachmae for a month and six days.

Famous sculptors must have been in very comfortable circumstances; even a man like Telesinos, unknown to us from any source but the single decree cited above, was in a position to make the Delians a present of the two statues they had commissioned from him and throw in further restoration works, also at no charge.

The same applies to the Mausoleum of Halikarnassus: Pliny tells us that "the queen died before the work was finished" but that Skopas, Bryaxis, Timotheos and Leochares "did not, however, leave until their work was finished, believing that it would be a memorial to their glory and their art", which suggests that they were working for nothing.

At around the same time, however, Plato reports Socrates as saying that the sophist "Protagoras had earned far more money than Phidias and ten other sculptors put together".

The Social Rank of Sculptors in Ancient Greece As for the social status of sculptors, it must have varied from one individual to another: We need to know more about the social circles frequented by sculptors, but it is noteworthy that Plato, not a lover of the imitative arts, allows both sculptors and painters, whose position in society was certainly a comfortable one, to occupy the sixth rank of the social hierarchy, instead of relegating them to the seventh rank with other manual workers.

And yet they still seem to have been regarded as manual workers. Sculptors, or at least the makers of statues, may not have had a desirable position in society as a whole, but they seem to have enjoyed high status among artists.

The artistic hierarchy is well illustrated by the use of signatures, reflecting the status and renown not only of the signatory himself but of his entire professional category.

The extreme scarcity of signed mosaic art suggests that the men who made it were of no social standing, a fact continued by the lack of interest in them shown by Classical historians.

In the same way, vase painters signed their work only during a relatively short period. On the other hand, inscribed bases show that throughout antiquity even the least famous sculptors usually signed their works.

For biographical details of other important sculptors from ancient Greece, see: Training of Sculptors in Ancient Greece Moving from the professional activities of sculptors to their training, what little information we have is as sporadic as it is incomplete.

The authors usually tell us that such and such a sculptor was the pupil of this or that man. We know that Myron and Polykleitos studied together, and the question of finding a teacher of sculpture comes up once in Plato.

We may assume that sculptors were not self-taught but we have no details of how a pupil might find a master, how he would pay that master, and so on.

In any case, despite the suggestion conveyed by the general terms "Argive school" or "Attic school", there is unlikely to have been any teaching of the fine arts such as exists in today's colleges and universities.

Finally we may also suppose that a man known for his work in sculpture was not obliged to devote himself to it exclusively: Phidias was also overseer of the architectural projects on the Acropolis, and Euphranor was said to be as good a painter as he was a sculptor.

How Statues Were Used If every work of sculpture was the result of a commission, either public or private, it was because the patron who commissioned the work had a use for it.

Only at a late date, and even then sporadically, was a statue simply to be displayed for admiration as if in a museum. Monumental and architectural sculpture was obviously intended to furnish images for parts of temples and other notable buildings which would otherwise have remained bare.

The same applies to most reliefs, whose imagery clearly conveys the purposes for which they were made: It is the purpose of the isolated statue which calls for special attention.

We need not expect much information from studying the Greek words for statues. About ten of them have come down to us in literary texts, but their archeological relevance is limited.

Sometimes the actual meanings of these words are uncertain: Rather, it was the other way round. It was applied to the statue of Helios the sun god in Rhodes harbour the Colossus of Rhodes , and subsequently came to denote any gigantic statue.

We must even beware of words with an obvious etymology but a specialized sense, such as eikon, "image", a term which we know was applied in Roman Imperial times to portrait busts of the emperor.

The same imperial busts were also called protomai, a term which instead of emphasizing human resemblance indicates that the head is parted from the body; similarly xoanon "carved [piece, especially of wood]" refers to the technique of manufacture, while andrias "human [image]" describes configuration, and agalma means primarily a "set of ornaments" reserved for kings and gods.

In the circumstances, the Classical terminology for statuary may well supply useful information on individual points, but the semantic distribution of concurrent terms is not systematic enough to give us principles for classifying either the configurations or even the uses of statues.

Since we cannot expect much help from the terminology, we must rely on an examination of the statues themselves to discover what they were for.

However, a distinction should first be drawn between two questions which are often confused. What Do They Depict?

The first and easiest is the thematic question: Primarily they show the human body, images of which constitute an overwhelming majority.

However, Greek art never distinguishes between deities and mortals by those artifices found elsewhere, such as the animal heads of many Egyptian gods, which prevent us from confusing Horus and the Pharaoh, or the halo of Christian iconography.

Also, there is no equivalent in Greek art to the medieval gisant. Thus the same young man carved in marble could be a god or a living or a dead mortal.

Only the environment sanctuary, cemetery or public place and the inscription accompanying the statue allowed the viewer in ancient times to recognize the statue for what it was - and the same is true for the viewer today.

For instance, if the kouros from Anavysos and the statue of Phrasikleia had not been found with their inscribed bases, we could not know that they were funerary statues.

Dating from the Archaic period, with its 'kouros' standing nude male and 'kore' standing draped female , Greek statuary was predominantly but not wholly devoted to the human figure.

It sometimes showed animals. Myron's Heifer, a bronze now lost, was so famous that we know about it from some fifty texts, including dozens of epigrams composed centuries later and retrospectively serving it as dedications.

The lions of Delos are equally famous today. Statues of lions were also placed on tombs, in particular those still visible today on the mass graves of the soldiers who died at Chaeronea and Amphipolis.

No statues depicting the vegetable kingdom have been preserved, but literary texts and inscriptions at Delphi and Delos mention palm trees in bronze.

Then there are the images of monsters: Finally, there are more startling subjects: A fragment of a marble phallus of enormous dimensions still stands on a tall pedestal at Delos, and according to its votive inscription was offered to Dionysos around the year by a victorious chorus-leader.

Similar phalluses, carved for similar occasions, have been found at Athens. What Were They For? Naturally, we find such works unexpected, and seek their raison d'etre in our second question: What advantage did the patron expect?

Why did he agree to the expense? Here we encounter a basic misunderstanding which still impedes the layman's appreciation of Greek statuary.

In his book Laocoon , Lessing claimed that there was no Greek art except where the imagery of sculpture had cast off religious constraints.

In fact those constraints were relaxed only very late and to a very partial extent, so that the reasons ancient Greeks had for going to the expense of commissioning a statue in the round were by no means those we think of as presiding over the sculptor's "creativity".

Greek statues were hardly ever uncommissioned work made solely for aesthetic reasons of the kind that we now call art.

It is not that the works discussed here had no aesthetic purpose, nor even that Greece ignored the aspects of form or value including commercial value in works of the past which we see as components of art, but the most famous works were made for purposes which were pragmatic and specific - certainly not initially for the admiration of enlightened art-lovers.

Religious Purpose of Greek Statuary Above all, and in a manner remote from our modern concept of art, those purposes were religious.

Famous as the chryselephantine Zeus of Phidias was throughout antiquity, so famous that it was counted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World , it was made to be the idol inhabiting the main temple at Olympia; the same sculptor's Athena Parthenos was made for the Parthenon.

The Greek temple was not like a church where the faithful gather; it was the house of the god, that is, of the statue in which the god was thought to reside, and whose main role was thus to ensure the god's presence.

There are plenty of indications that this belief was very real, at least in early times, The word hedos expressly designates the statue as the divinity's place of residence; authors such as Pausanias in his "Description of Greece" tell us that certain very old statues of gods had no feet, or had their feet chained down to prevent the divinity from escaping and thus removing its protection from the city; conversely, there was the transfer or even theft of cult statues, a subject which constitutes the plot of Euripides's Iphigenia in Tauris, where Orestes and his sister steal a statue of Tauric Artemis to take it home to Attica.

Of course belief in the presence of the god in the statue must have faded after the 5th century, with the rise of rationalist criticism and atheism.

And in any case the people of the ancient world treated cult statues in a way which strikes us as cavalier, in terms of religion and aesthetics, but which did not seem to them impious.

At the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, for example, Thucydides credits Pericles, who is anxious to reassure the Athenians, with the idea that in dire need the city always had the "garments in gold of the chrysclephantine statue of Athena, amounting to forty talents of refined gold, which could be removed".

The idols in temples, worshipped like the gods themselves, did not always look as we imagine Greek statues to look. Though some cult statues were the work of Phidias and other sculptors of the Classical period, many of the xoana, going back to a very ancient past and preserved out of religious respect, must have been nothing but rough-hewn pieces of wood.

The story of the Pythagorean philosopher Parmeniskos bursting into laughter before the Leto of Delos tells us a good deal about the appearance of the statue, described in the administrative accounts of the temple as being dressed in shoes, a linen tunic and a purple cloak.

Even when a cult statue did look Classical, the sculptor did not have complete iconographic freedom, but had to bow to theological requirements and show what had to be shown.

Phidias did not invent the curious outfit of his Athena Parthenos; we can see what she looked like from the statuette known as the "Varvakeion Athena", and the description by Pausanias provides confirmation.

Similarly, with the statue of Delian Apollo, it would not have been the idea of Tectaios and Angelion themselves to place the Graces on the god's right hand and the bow in his left hand, in order to show that he was more inclined to reward worshippers than punish them.

Under the theory, Earth's gravity captured Venus' old moon, giving our planet its big natural satellite. This idea contrasts to the thinking of the vast majority of moon researchers, who believe that the Earth's moon formed some 4.

This giant impact hypothesis, however, has its own issues, as did all the alternative moon formation theories discussed this week at the Origin of the Moon conference at the Royal Society here.

The "moon capture" theory assumes that Earth used its gravitational pull to attract a pre-formed space body into its orbit, thus making a satellite of this object.

A Lunar Tour Video ]. However, the geochemical composition of the moon and Earth likely trips up this theory. Analyses of the lunar rocks brought back by NASA's Apollo moon landing missions have shown that the satellite has an isotopic composition very similar to that of Earth.

Isotopes refer to varieties of chemical elements that have the same number of protons, but different numbers of neutrons.

Two isotopes behave the same chemically. And if both moon and Earth have very similar isotopes, it makes the capture theory difficult to maintain, said Alex Halliday, head of science at Oxford University.

Such isotopic similarities suggest that "the material that makes up the moon did actually either come out of the Earth, or that the stuff that was in the disk that formed the moon got completely mixed up with the stuff in the Earth.

Nonetheless, some aspects of the idea that the moon may have come from Venus are intriguing, he said. They have similar mass, and people think they have probably formed in a similar way," he said.

Lovely woman with an incredible body oh those breasts! Annette Haven A sex goddess from the Golden Age of XXX, Annette was born in Las Vegas to a conservative Mormon family which she says influenced her decision to enter porn and upon adulthood moved to San Francisco and found work as a stripper.

Well worth checking out if you can find them. Supposedly somewhere along the line she picked up fluent Portuguese, although not much else is known before her migration to California in the early s.

The fact that her lovely slender body included a pair of incredible breasts several sizes larger than the rest of her frame got her fans' attention, but her staying power was helped along with an appealing girl-next-door appearance - pretty eyes, a goofy smile, and a general demeanor halfway between corn-fed Midwestern girl and California hippie.

That combo - the proportions of a goddess but the down-to-earth persona of your neighbor around the block - is a big reason for her appeal even decades later.

By the late s she had blossomed into the subject of many a red-blooded Englishman's fantasy - her amazing figure, lovely face, and natural charisma in front of the camera made her a much sought-after model for magazine and camera club shoots in the UK.

It's rumored that she got her start dancing at SoHo's legendary Windmill Theatre during its last years, though at 5'2" it's unlikely she would have met their height requirements.

In any event, she soon went exclusively into modeling. June's most famous material comes from her long-standing collaboration with photographer Harrison Marks, who very nearly did not hire her due to incessant giggling during their first test shoots - luckily June settled down and the pair became one of the most successful in glamour photography at the time.

Though June and Harrison's relationship was romantic as well as professional, she eventually married photographer, actor, and stunt man Arthur Howell.

She retired from professional modeling in and Howell and herself opened Strobe Studios, which for two hours every Thursday evening was open to amateur photographers to practice their art - portraits and pin-up style photography the first hour, a cup of tea, and then classical poses for the remainder.

It is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Venus is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" because of their similar size, mass, proximity to the Sun, and bulk composition.

It is radically different from Earth in other respects. Venus is shrouded by an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid , preventing its surface from being seen from space in visible light.

It may have had water oceans in the past, [16] [17] but these would have vaporized as the temperature rose due to a runaway greenhouse effect.

As one of the brightest objects in the sky, Venus has been a major fixture in human culture for as long as records have existed. It has been made sacred to gods of many cultures, and has been a prime inspiration for writers and poets as the morning star and evening star.

Venus was the first planet to have its motions plotted across the sky, as early as the second millennium BC. As the closest planet to Earth, Venus has been a prime target for early interplanetary exploration.

It was the first planet beyond Earth visited by a spacecraft Mariner 2 in , and the first to be successfully landed on by Venera 7 in Venus's thick clouds render observation of its surface impossible in visible light, and the first detailed maps did not emerge until the arrival of the Magellan orbiter in Plans have been proposed for rovers or more complex missions, but they are hindered by Venus's hostile surface conditions.

Venus is one of the four terrestrial planets in the Solar System, meaning that it is a rocky body like Earth. It is similar to Earth in size and mass, and is often described as Earth's "sister" or "twin".

Conditions on the Venusian surface differ radically from those on Earth because its dense atmosphere is The Venusian surface was a subject of speculation until some of its secrets were revealed by planetary science in the 20th century.

Venera landers in and returned images of a surface covered in sediment and relatively angular rocks. The ground shows evidence of extensive volcanism , and the sulfur in the atmosphere may indicate that there have been some recent eruptions.

The northern continent is called Ishtar Terra after Ishtar , the Babylonian goddess of love, and is about the size of Australia. Maxwell Montes , the highest mountain on Venus, lies on Ishtar Terra.

A network of fractures and faults covers much of this area. The absence of evidence of lava flow accompanying any of the visible calderas remains an enigma.

The planet has few impact craters , demonstrating that the surface is relatively young, approximately — million years old. These features are volcanic in origin.

Most Venusian surface features are named after historical and mythological women. The latter three features were named before the current system was adopted by the International Astronomical Union , the body which oversees planetary nomenclature.

The longitudes of physical features on Venus are expressed relative to its prime meridian. The original prime meridian passed through the radar-bright spot at the centre of the oval feature Eve, located south of Alpha Regio.

Much of the Venusian surface appears to have been shaped by volcanic activity. The only volcanic complex of this size on Earth is the Big Island of Hawaii.

Earth's oceanic crust is continually recycled by subduction at the boundaries of tectonic plates , and has an average age of about million years, [37] whereas the Venusian surface is estimated to be — million years old.

Several lines of evidence point to ongoing volcanic activity on Venus. During the Soviet Venera program, the Venera 9 orbiter obtained spectroscopic evidence of lightning on Venus, [38] and the Venera 12 descent probe obtained additional evidence of lightning and thunder.

Another piece of evidence comes from measurements of sulfur dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, which dropped by a factor of 10 between and , jumped in , and again declined fold.

In and , the first direct evidence for ongoing volcanism was observed by Venus Express , in the form of four transient localized infrared hot spots within the rift zone Ganis Chasma , [46] [n 1] near the shield volcano Maat Mons.

Three of the spots were observed in more than one successive orbit. These spots are thought to represent lava freshly released by volcanic eruptions.

Almost a thousand impact craters on Venus are evenly distributed across its surface. On other cratered bodies, such as Earth and the Moon, craters show a range of states of degradation.

On the Moon, degradation is caused by subsequent impacts, whereas on Earth it is caused by wind and rain erosion.

The number of craters, together with their well-preserved condition, indicates the planet underwent a global resurfacing event about — million years ago, [29] [30] followed by a decay in volcanism.

Without plate tectonics to dissipate heat from its mantle, Venus instead undergoes a cyclical process in which mantle temperatures rise until they reach a critical level that weakens the crust.

Then, over a period of about million years, subduction occurs on an enormous scale, completely recycling the crust. Objects with less than a certain kinetic energy are slowed down so much by the atmosphere that they do not create an impact crater.

Without seismic data or knowledge of its moment of inertia , little direct information is available about the internal structure and geochemistry of Venus.

Like that of Earth, the Venusian core is at least partially liquid because the two planets have been cooling at about the same rate.

This results in reduced heat loss from the planet, preventing it from cooling and providing a likely explanation for its lack of an internally generated magnetic field.

Venus has an extremely dense atmosphere composed of This temperature is higher than that used for sterilization. Studies have suggested that billions of years ago Venus's atmosphere was much more like Earth's than it is now, and that there may have been substantial quantities of liquid water on the surface, but after a period of million to several billion years, [61] a runaway greenhouse effect was caused by the evaporation of that original water, which generated a critical level of greenhouse gases in its atmosphere.

Thermal inertia and the transfer of heat by winds in the lower atmosphere mean that the temperature of Venus's surface does not vary significantly between the night and day sides, despite Venus's extremely slow rotation.

Winds at the surface are slow, moving at a few kilometres per hour, but because of the high density of the atmosphere at the surface, they exert a significant amount of force against obstructions, and transport dust and small stones across the surface.

This alone would make it difficult for a human to walk through, even if the heat, pressure, and lack of oxygen were not a problem.

Above the dense CO 2 layer are thick clouds consisting mainly of sulfuric acid , which is formed by sulfur dioxide and water through a chemical reaction resulting in sulfuric acid hydrate.

Clouds at different levels have different compositions and particle size distributions. The permanent cloud cover means that although Venus is closer than Earth to the Sun, it receives less sunlight on the ground.

The surface of Venus is effectively isothermal ; it retains a constant temperature not only between day and night sides but between the equator and the poles.

This substance likely formed from a similar process to snow, albeit at a far higher temperature. Too volatile to condense on the surface, it rose in gaseous form to higher elevations, where it is cooler and could precipitate.

The identity of this substance is not known with certainty, but speculation has ranged from elemental tellurium to lead sulfide galena. The clouds of Venus may be capable of producing lightning.

In —07, Venus Express clearly detected whistler mode waves , the signatures of lightning. Their intermittent appearance indicates a pattern associated with weather activity.

According to these measurements, the lightning rate is at least half of that on Earth. Venus Express also discovered, in , that an ozone layer exists high in the atmosphere of Venus.

In December and to a lesser extent in April and May , researchers working on Japan's Akatsuki mission observed bow shapes in the atmosphere of Venus.

This was considered direct evidence of the existence of perhaps the largest stationary gravity waves in the solar system.

In , Venera 4 found Venus's magnetic field to be much weaker than that of Earth. This magnetic field is induced by an interaction between the ionosphere and the solar wind , [87] [88] rather than by an internal dynamo as in the Earth's core.

Venus's small induced magnetosphere provides negligible protection to the atmosphere against cosmic radiation. The lack of an intrinsic magnetic field at Venus was surprising, given that it is similar to Earth in size, and was expected also to contain a dynamo at its core.

A dynamo requires three things: The core is thought to be electrically conductive and, although its rotation is often thought to be too slow, simulations show it is adequate to produce a dynamo.

On Earth, convection occurs in the liquid outer layer of the core because the bottom of the liquid layer is much hotter than the top.

On Venus, a global resurfacing event may have shut down plate tectonics and led to a reduced heat flux through the crust. This caused the mantle temperature to increase, thereby reducing the heat flux out of the core.

As a result, no internal geodynamo is available to drive a magnetic field. Instead, the heat from the core is being used to reheat the crust. One possibility is that Venus has no solid inner core, [92] or that its core is not cooling, so that the entire liquid part of the core is at approximately the same temperature.

Another possibility is that its core has already completely solidified. The state of the core is highly dependent on the concentration of sulfur , which is unknown at present.

The weak magnetosphere around Venus means that the solar wind is interacting directly with its outer atmosphere. Here, ions of hydrogen and oxygen are being created by the dissociation of neutral molecules from ultraviolet radiation.

The solar wind then supplies energy that gives some of these ions sufficient velocity to escape Venus's gravity field.

This erosion process results in a steady loss of low-mass hydrogen, helium, and oxygen ions, whereas higher-mass molecules, such as carbon dioxide, are more likely to be retained.

Atmospheric erosion by the solar wind probably led to the loss of most of Venus's water during the first billion years after it formed.

Venus orbits the Sun at an average distance of about 0. Although all planetary orbits are elliptical , Venus's orbit is the closest to circular , with an eccentricity of less than 0.

All the planets in the Solar System orbit the Sun in a counterclockwise direction as viewed from above Earth's north pole.

Because its rotation is so slow, Venus is very close to spherical. Venus's equator rotates at 6. Venus may have formed from the solar nebula with a different rotation period and obliquity, reaching its current state because of chaotic spin changes caused by planetary perturbations and tidal effects on its dense atmosphere, a change that would have occurred over the course of billions of years.

The rotation period of Venus may represent an equilibrium state between tidal locking to the Sun's gravitation, which tends to slow rotation, and an atmospheric tide created by solar heating of the thick Venusian atmosphere.

Venus has no natural satellites. Alex Alemi's and David Stevenson 's study of models of the early Solar System at the California Institute of Technology shows Venus likely had at least one moon created by a huge impact event billions of years ago.

An alternative explanation for the lack of satellites is the effect of strong solar tides, which can destabilize large satellites orbiting the inner terrestrial planets.

To the naked eye , Venus appears as a white point of light brighter than any other planet or star apart from the Sun.

Venus "overtakes" Earth every days as it orbits the Sun. Its greater maximum elongation means it is visible in dark skies long after sunset.

As the brightest point-like object in the sky, Venus is a commonly misreported " unidentified flying object ".

As it orbits the Sun, Venus displays phases like those of the Moon in a telescopic view. The planet appears as a small and "full" disc when it is on the opposite side of the Sun at superior conjunction.

Venus shows a larger disc and "quarter phase" at its maximum elongations from the Sun, and appears its brightest in the night sky.

The planet presents a much larger thin "crescent" in telescopic views as it passes along the near side between Earth and the Sun.

Venus displays its largest size and "new phase" when it is between Earth and the Sun at inferior conjunction. Its atmosphere is visible through telescopes by the halo of sunlight refracted around it.

The Venusian orbit is slightly inclined relative to Earth's orbit; thus, when the planet passes between Earth and the Sun, it usually does not cross the face of the Sun.

Transits of Venus occur when the planet's inferior conjunction coincides with its presence in the plane of Earth's orbit.

The latest pair was June 8, and June 5—6, The transit could be watched live from many online outlets or observed locally with the right equipment and conditions.

The preceding pair of transits occurred in December and December ; the following pair will occur in December and December Historically, transits of Venus were important, because they allowed astronomers to determine the size of the astronomical unit , and hence the size of the Solar System as shown by Horrocks in The pentagram of Venus is the path that Venus makes as observed from Earth.

Successive inferior conjunctions of Venus repeat very near a Naked eye observations of Venus during daylight hours exist in several anecdotes and records.

Astronomer Edmund Halley calculated its maximum naked eye brightness in , when many Londoners were alarmed by its appearance in the daytime.

French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once witnessed a daytime apparition of the planet while at a reception in Luxembourg.

A long-standing mystery of Venus observations is the so-called ashen light —an apparent weak illumination of its dark side, seen when the planet is in the crescent phase.

The first claimed observation of ashen light was made in , but the existence of the illumination has never been reliably confirmed.

Observers have speculated it may result from electrical activity in the Venusian atmosphere, but it could be illusory, resulting from the physiological effect of observing a bright, crescent-shaped object.

Though some ancient civilizations referred to Venus both as the "morning star" and as the "evening star", names that reflect the assumption that these were two separate objects, the earliest recorded observations of Venus by the ancient Sumerians show that they recognized Venus as a single object, [] associated it with the goddess Inanna.

The ancient Greeks also initially believed Venus to be two separate stars: Phosphorus , the morning star, and Hesperus , the evening star. Pliny the Elder credited the realization that they were a single object to Pythagoras in the sixth century BCE, [] while Diogenes Laertius argued that Parmenides was probably responsible for this rediscovery.

In the second century, in his astronomical treatise Almagest , Ptolemy theorized that both Mercury and Venus are located between the Sun and the Earth.

The 11th century Persian astronomer Avicenna claimed to have observed the transit of Venus , [] which later astronomers took as confirmation of Ptolemy's theory.

When Venus is furthest from the Sun in the sky, it shows a half-lit phase , and when it is closest to the Sun in the sky, it shows as a crescent or full phase.

This could be possible only if Venus orbited the Sun, and this was among the first observations to clearly contradict the Ptolemaic geocentric model that the Solar System was concentric and centred on Earth.

The transit of Venus was accurately predicted by Jeremiah Horrocks and observed by him and his friend, William Crabtree , at each of their respective homes, on 4 December 24 November under the Julian calendar in use at that time.

The atmosphere of Venus was discovered in by Russian polymath Mikhail Lomonosov. He correctly surmised this was due to scattering of sunlight in a dense atmosphere.

Later, American astronomer Chester Smith Lyman observed a complete ring around the dark side of the planet when it was at inferior conjunction , providing further evidence for an atmosphere.

Its almost featureless disc gave no hint what its surface might be like, and it was only with the development of spectroscopic , radar and ultraviolet observations that more of its secrets were revealed.

The first ultraviolet observations were carried out in the s, when Frank E. Ross found that ultraviolet photographs revealed considerable detail that was absent in visible and infrared radiation.

He suggested this was due to a dense, yellow lower atmosphere with high cirrus clouds above it. Spectroscopic observations in the s gave the first clues about the Venusian rotation.

Vesto Slipher tried to measure the Doppler shift of light from Venus, but found he could not detect any rotation.

He surmised the planet must have a much longer rotation period than had previously been thought. Radar observations of Venus were first carried out in the s, and provided the first measurements of the rotation period, which were close to the modern value.

Radar observations in the s revealed details of the Venusian surface for the first time. The observations also revealed a bright region attributed to mountains, which was called Maxwell Montes.

The first robotic space probe mission to Venus, and the first to any planet, began with the Soviet Venera program in On 18 October , the Soviet Venera 4 successfully entered the atmosphere and deployed science experiments.

In , Mariner 10 swung by Venus on its way to Mercury and took ultraviolet photographs of the clouds, revealing the extraordinarily high wind speeds in the Venusian atmosphere.

In , the Soviet Venera 9 and 10 landers transmitted the first images from the surface of Venus, which were in black and white. In the first colour images of the surface were obtained with the Soviet Venera 13 and 14 landers.

NASA obtained additional data in with the Pioneer Venus project that consisted of two separate missions: Equipped with seven scientific instruments, Venus Express provided unprecedented long-term observation of Venus's atmosphere.

ESA concluded that mission in December In , NASA announced that it was planning a rover, the Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments , designed to survive for an extended time in Venus's environmental conditions.

It would be controlled by a mechanical computer and driven by wind power. Venus is a primary feature of the night sky, and so has been of remarkable importance in mythology , astrology and fiction throughout history and in different cultures.

Classical poets such as Homer , Sappho , Ovid and Virgil spoke of the star and its light. Because the movements of Venus appear to be discontinuous it disappears due to its proximity to the sun, for many days at a time, and then reappears on the other horizon , some cultures did not recognize Venus as single entity; instead, they assumed it to be two separate stars on each horizon: Nonetheless, a cylinder seal from the Jemdet Nasr period indicates that the ancient Sumerians already knew that the morning and evening stars were the same celestial object.

The Sumerians associated the planet with the goddess Inanna known as Ishtar by the later Akkadians and Babylonians , and their myths of Inanna are often allegories for the apparent motions and cycles of the planet.

Shukra which is used in Indian Vedic astrology [] means "clear, pure" or "brightness, clearness" in Sanskrit. One of the nine Navagraha , it is held to affect wealth, pleasure and reproduction; it was the son of Bhrgu , preceptor of the Daityas, and guru of the Asuras.

Venus is known as Kejora in Indonesian and Malay. The Ancient Egyptians and Greeks believed Venus to be two separate bodies, a morning star and an evening star.

The Egyptians knew the morning star as Tioumoutiri and the evening star as Ouaiti. Venus was considered the most important celestial body observed by the Maya , who called it Chac ek , [] or Noh Ek ', "the Great Star".

With the invention of the telescope, the idea that Venus was a physical world and possible destination began to take form. The impenetrable Venusian cloud cover gave science fiction writers free rein to speculate on conditions at its surface; all the more so when early observations showed that not only was it similar in size to Earth, it possessed a substantial atmosphere.

Closer to the Sun than Earth, the planet was frequently depicted as warmer, but still habitable by humans. Findings from the first missions to Venus showed the reality to be quite different, and brought this particular genre to an end.

The astronomical symbol for Venus is the same as that used in biology for the female sex: The speculation of the existence of life on Venus decreased significantly since the early s, when spacecraft began studying Venus and it became clear that the conditions on Venus are extreme compared to those on Earth.

A few scientists have speculated that thermoacidophilic extremophile microorganisms might exist in the lower-temperature, acidic upper layers of the Venusian atmosphere.

This has led to proposals to use aerostats lighter-than-air balloons for initial exploration and ultimately for permanent "floating cities" in the Venusian atmosphere.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the planet. For other uses, see Venus disambiguation.

Second planet from the Sun in the Solar System. A real-colour image taken by Mariner 10 processed from two filters.

The surface is obscured by thick sulfuric acid clouds. Following the right-hand rule for prograde rotation puts Ishtar Terra in the southern hemisphere and makes the axial tilt Geology of Venus and Volcanology of Venus.

And if both moon and Earth have very similar isotopes, it makes the capture theory difficult to maintain, said Alex Halliday, head of science at Oxford University.

Such isotopic similarities suggest that "the material that makes up the moon did actually either come out of the Earth, or that the stuff that was in the disk that formed the moon got completely mixed up with the stuff in the Earth.

Nonetheless, some aspects of the idea that the moon may have come from Venus are intriguing, he said. They have similar mass, and people think they have probably formed in a similar way," he said.

Stevenson's idea would answer that question, Halliday said, "throwing a new twist into the whole capture theory.

There are many theories for what might have caused such a large moon for a planet as small as Earth.

The most popular theory assumes an impact, where the debris of the collision — a mix of the material from Earth and the other body — gave birth to the moon.

This body then stayed in orbit about the Earth, forever bound to its new home. Another posits that the moon "fissioned" from the Earth's crust and mantle due to the centrifugal force of a rapidly spinning early Earth.

Another theory, called binary accretion, assumes that the moon was born at the same time and place as Earth.

The biggest flaw of the fission, capture and binary accretion theories is that they cannot account for the high angular momentum of the Earth-moon system.

Scientists believe that initially the Earth was spinning so rapidly that a day lasted only five or six hours, and the moon was in a very low-altitude orbit.

But gradually, tidal drag slowed the Earth's spin and pushed the moon's orbit up to its present level. The capture theory will always face a challenge explaining the similar composition of the moon and Earth, Stevenson said.

But if scientists analyze rocks from Venus and they turn out to be very similar to those on Earth, that would argue in favor of the capture theory.

The giant impact idea also has trouble explaining why the Earth and the moon are so peculiarly similar. Even though he himself favors the impact theory, Stevenson said he picked Venus for a larger purpose.

If Venus indeed once had a moon and lost it, how might the planet have acquired a satellite in the first place? Unlike what would have happened with Earth, the formation of any moon of Venus may have occurred much earlier, shortly after the formation of the solar system, Stevenson said.

So Venus possibly would have gotten its moon after an even earlier giant impact of some sort, and the planet may have lost its moon either by collision or by escape.

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