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Who Discovered Venus? We Bet You Didn't Know

Who Discovered Venus?
Have you ever wondered who discovered Venus, the second planet from the Sun? The following article will help uncover some interesting information on the discovery of Venus.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Last Updated: Feb 17, 2018
Did you know?
Venus and Uranus are the only planets in our solar system that rotate around their axes in a clockwise manner. All the other planets rotate anti-clockwise.
Venus, the second planet from the Sun (about 108 km away) after Mercury and before Earth, has been named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, Venus. It is considered to be the Earth's twin, possibly because of its size, weight, and gravity that is almost the same as the Earth.
Venus is about 12,100 km in diameter. Moreover, Venus and Earth are more closer together than any other two planets in the entire solar system. Added to this, it is the hottest planet in the solar system, with a surface temperature of about 400 °C.
Venus can be easily observed from the Earth with bare eyes. One can witness the planet as one of the brightest objects shining in the sky, both at sunrise and at sunset. It reaches its maximum brightness, just before the sun rises, and just after the sun sets. This was probably the reason why the ancient people referred to it as the 'Morning Star' or the 'Evening Star'.
Discovery of Venus
Who actually discovered the planet is a rather tricky question, because Venus has been known to the humans even before the introduction of writing.
✬ Because Venus could be seen clearly from the Earth, twice in a day, the ancient Egyptians believed that the 'Morning Star' and the 'Evening Star' were two different planets.

✬ The ancient Babylonians seem to have been the first ones to have recognized that both, the morning and the evening stars are in fact, one and the same celestial object that appears twice a day.
✬ The Babylonian Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa, dated to around 1581 B.C., gives detailed observations regarding this view.

✬ The earlier Greeks also held a view of the two stars being separate celestial objects, and named them as Phosphorus and Hesperus.
✬ In the 6th century B.C., Pythagoras firmly established that it was a single object. But, the loophole in Pythagoras' research, lied in his observation that Venus revolved around the Earth, and not the Sun.
Copernican diagram of heliocentric universe
Heliocentric model of the universe by Copernicus
✬ The viewpoint that Venus was another planet just like the Earth, was put forth in around 1500 A.D. by a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer named Nicolaus Copernicus.

✬ Copernicus made a heliocentric model of the universe, which showed that the Sun was in the center and all the planets revolved around it.
✬ This was the first time ever that Venus was considered to be a planet that revolved around the Sun, just as the Earth did. So, the credit of the discovery of Venus, as a planet, may be given to Copernicus.
Digital Illustration of the Phases of the Moon
Representation : Phases of the moon
✬ Galileo Galilei further researched on Venus, with the help of his rudimentary telescope. He further confirmed Copernicus' theory, and also made an interesting discovery.

✬ He said that Venus also undergoes numerous phases of waxing and waning, just as the moon does. The planet went from being as big as the full moon to gibbous, crescent-shaped, and back to its original size.

✬ Thus, the first person to put forth the correct description of Venus, as a planet, was Galileo.
✬ In 1761, a Russian polymath, named Mikhail Lomonosov, discovered the atmosphere of Venus. His hypothesis was based on his observation and analysis of the transit of Venus.
✬ All these initial discoveries led to the formation of a solid ground for further and more advanced scientific researches with regards to Venus.
Venus Trivia
✬ Venus is covered with thick clouds that can move very fast. These clouds are made up of sulfuric acid that reflects half of the sunlight reaching the planet.

✬ It rotates very slowly, and in the opposite direction of Earth's rotation. So, if you happen to land on Venus, you will experience the sun rising from the west and setting in the east.
✬ An American astronomer, Robert Richardson, was the first person who discovered that Venus rotated backwards.

✬ The atmospheric temperature of Venus is 90 times more than that of the Earth. The high levels of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide on the planet is the cause of its extremely high temperature. This high surface temperature of Venus causes all its water to dry up.
✬ Russian Venera I was the first space probe mission that was sent to Venus. In just seven days, it lost all contacts with the Earth. America sent the first successful spacecraft, Mariner 2, in 1962, to Venus. Since then, there have been numerous probes and spacecrafts visiting the planet.

✬ A year on Venus is about 255 days long, and one Venus day is equal to 243 Earth days.
The discovery of Venus is thus, a rather difficult question to answer. This is because there is no one person, who can be credited with its discovery. Many people, belonging to different periods of time, have made significant discoveries with respect to the planet. Hence, what we know of Venus today, is due to the collective contributions of all these people.
Soviet postage stamp dedicated to Nicolaus Copernicus
Poland 1973 shows Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) painted
Nicolaus Copernicus