There are few places that have captured the minds of dreamers like Venus. Every picture of Earth’s sister planet is covered in clouds, like a veil hiding the treasures below. Up until the beginning of the modern age of space exploration Venus was even more of a mystery. Like the moon, from the position of Earth, Venus has its own phases that it runs through as it dances around the Sun. Overall it is a very appealing planet, one that for a time was thought to contain life to the point that some romantic thinkers imagined complex civilizations living in ivory towers on a rich steamy jungle planet.
Sadly the truth could not be further from this primitive observation. Up until recent observations of extrasolar planets, Venus was widely believed to be the hottest of all planets with an average temperature around 450 degrees Celsius. Adding to the extremes, the surface pressure is a little shy of one hundred times that of Earth’s and is primarily composed of carbon dioxide. While this may seem beyond the capabilities of any life, the Russians sent several probes to the cloudy planet and the probes survived long enough to send a few pictures back. Here on Earth, scientists have begun to understand that life does not necessarily have to subscribe to the rules that have been ‘knowledge’ for so many years. If there happens to be hydrothermal water sources in the subsurface, life could possibly survive and flourish.
Venus is easy enough to find since it is one of the brightest objects in the sky. Like Mercury, it trails or proceeds the Sun given its position relative to ours. At the time of writing it is easiest to observe Venus before the Sun rises in the morning. On the other hand, for anybody that is daring, Venus is one of the few objects that is visible during the day. Venus can be found during the day when it is close to the moon, with a little bit of patience with a telescope or binoculars. Nothing beats having both the Moon and Venus in the same view with both objects at a crescent.
As for the future of Venus, since the planet is fairly active geologically, scientists may be returning if valuable resources or basic information on the formation of the Solar system that may be present in the lava flows that coat the surface are needed.
May the Stars Shine Brightly In Your Skies