The Rotation of Venus

So many times people compare Venus and Earth to each other due to their similarities in mass, size, density and chemical composition. However, Venus is notorious for its extremely intense temperature and atmospheric pressure that are quite different than Earth�s. Another thing that differs between the two planets is the direction of their rotation. Venus�s rotation takes longer than a year and it rotates backwards. Note that a rotation is when an object spins once on its own axis. Our planet takes only 24 hours, or one full Earth day, to rotate on its axis and a year to revolve around the Sun. Venus, however, takes 243 days to turn one time on its axis and almost 225 days to revolve around the Sun in orbit. Strangely, a year on Venus is shorter than a day. But that�s not the only surprise Venus has in store. In addition to having longer days than years in Venus, the planet�s rotation is backwards. However, it can only be considered backwards or �unusual� because Venus�s retrograde rotation does not follow the norm of the other planets. Therefore, we see it as something extraordinary and strange. When, in reality, it might not be so strange after all. If people lived on Venus they would have though Earth and all of the other planets are weird for rotating counter-clockwise. While observing from above, one can see that all of the other planets in our Solar System rotate counter-clockwise. On Venus, however, the rotation is backwards, or clockwise, which is called retrograde. Standing on the surface of Venus, one would be able to see the sun rising from the west. After 116.75 days it would travel across the sky and then set in the east. Many astronomers believe that the reason for this backwards rotation could be due to the impact of another large planet billions of years ago. They speculate that the combined momentum between the two objects averaged out to the current rotational speed and direction. Furthermore, some astronomers say that the way a planet rotates relates to how it was formed during the accretion of planetesimals. It will rotate accordingly depending on which side more impacts occur. Another theory is that Venus�s rotation was once counter-clockwise when it first was created from the solar nebula, and tidal effects from the planet�s thick atmosphere might have possibly slowed down its rotation.

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