Venus is one of the largest planets in the solar system and the second from the sun behind Mercury. Astronomers named the planet Venus in honor of the goddess of love from Greek mythology. Ancient Greeks originally thought that the planet was home to women, which is they named it after a goddess. Early sci-fi films and novels surrounded beings on that planet attacking Earth because many thought that the planet was home to creatures that were similar to humans. We now know that the planet is empty and that it cannot support human life. You can learn more about Venus in the following article, including its color.
What Color Does Venus Appear?
You cannot see Venus without a telescope in your hand. As you look through the lens, you’ll notice that the planet looks slightly yellow. The color can range from a light and creamy version of yellow to a bright and sunny yellow. Venus also has white spots that mix with the yellow. This makes it appear as if the planet features alternating stripes of yellow and white. Even the photos and drawings of Venus that you see on the web include these two colors.
Carbon Dioxide and Sulfur Dioxide
NASA sent crafts into space that got close enough to Venus for astronomers to determine that the atmosphere of the planet includes both carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The carbon dioxide appears as large clouds that surround the planet and block it from normal view. Beneath those clouds is a layer of sulfur dioxide that causes something called the greenhouse effect. A greenhouse is a building used by gardeners to keep plants safe. It allows them to set the temperature and control the other features inside. The greenhouse effect on Venus locks in the heat of the planet.
No Human Life
Venus cannot sustain human life because of the greenhouse effect. The clouds made of carbon dioxide are toxic. When moisture reaches the clouds, the liquid becomes sulfuric acid that rains down on the planet. This rain is so acidic that it can eat through anything it touches. If humans live on the planet, they would suffer serious injuries every time that it rained. That rain also increases the temperature of the planet, which in turn produces more moisture. Venus has an almost never-ending cycle of acid rain that falls on the planet, rises back into the clouds and then rains down again.
The Real Color of Venus
Astronomers working for NASA conducted experiments in the hopes of learning the true color of Venus. They sent crafts near the planet and took photos that show the planet’s surface has a deep brown color. Soviet astronomers launched Venera 13, which was the first spacecraft in history to get close enough to the planet to take photos. Those photos showed that Venus has a reddish-brown color. Some believe that ancient volcanoes on Venus produced ash that determined its colors. Others think that the color came from the explosions that created the planet.
Why Do the Colors Change?
You might wonder why the appearance of Venus seems to change. The simple answer is that it’s due to the wavelengths that humans can see. Though our eyes evolved over time, we still cannot see every wavelength in the spectrum. The sunlight on the Earth combined with our eyes causes us to view the planet in shades of white and yellow when it is really red and brown. It is also due to the clouds that form over the planet. Those clouds block some of the natural light and reflect other waves, which all change the planet’s appearance to us.
If you want to get an idea of what Venus looks like, check out some of the maps designed by NASA. Astronomers took the original photos and added new colors to distinguish between the flat areas and mountains on the planet. Not only can you view the color of the planet, but you can see its terrain too. Due to the acid rain and carbon dioxide on Venus, the planet could never support humans. This planet is red and brown in person but appears as a yellow and white from the Earth.