You’ve witnessed the dazzling sight of Venus gracing the morning or evening skies of Earth, it shines bright, it’s actually the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon. Venus is my favourite naked eye planet, it punches through the twilight with its brightness, looking very impressive in the dark blue after sunset, or before sunrise. Venus is our planetary next door neighbour, Mars being our other neighbour in the solar system. Venus is Earth’s sister world, a place of extremes, a vision of Hell, with temperatures of up to 500 degrees C, a red gloomy landscape, and sulphuric acid clouds. It has undergone a runaway greenhouse effect, has atmospheric pressure that would feel like being a mile under the sea, and it orbits ‘backwards’ so the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east.
It’s those sulphuric acid clouds that reflect the sunlight so good that makes Venus so bright in the sky from Earth. The true colour image above is of Venus shining bright, but not from Earth, from another world, Saturn. This is a view of a rocky planet from a gas giant, as Venus glints through Saturn’s spectacular ring system. You can see Venus as a white pinpoint of light at upper right in the image, as seen from the Nasa Cassini Spacecraft on the night side of Saturn taken on November the 12th, 2012.
Below is another example of some spectacular space scenery, as Venus again makes an appearance next to saturn from Cassini’s perspective.
This image was taken on January the 4th 2013 as dawn was breaking across Saturn, and shows Venus as a white dot near the top of the image above Saturn’s G ring (the other similar white dot lower down is a background star).
It’s worth realising that as Venus is pretty much the same size as Earth, that is how small we’d look at the same distance.