Venus, also known as the Evening Star or the Morning Star, depending on its position in the sky and its relationship to setting or rising sun. 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. Venus was the first planet to have its motions plotted across the sky, as early as the second millennium BC, and was a prime target for early interplanetary exploration as the closest planet to Earth (as much as 261 million kilometres far - that's very far!).
It was the first planet beyond Earth visited by a spacecraft (Mariner 2) in 1962, and the first to be successfully landed on (by Venera 7) in 1970. 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 1991. Plans have been proposed for rovers or more complex missions, but they are hindered by Venus's extremely hostile surface conditions, exacerbated by a runaway greenhouse gas effect that have raised surface temperatures enough to melt lead metal.
This post is part of the Skywatch Friday meme.
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