As the bright planets Venus and Jupiter go their own separate ways after their spectacular tryst in mid-March, Venus continues to grow ever-brighter as the northern spring evenings warm up. The planet seems to gleam almost like a sequined showgirl, hovering in the west-northwest sky high above the setting sun.
Venus is will continue its celestial display when it shines near the well-known Pleiades star cluster in the western sky tonight. But first, some basic facts about Venus:
Many astronomy books refer to Venus as Earth's "twin sister," since both planets have very nearly the same size and mass. In terms of diameter, Venus is about 300 miles (483 kilometers) smaller than Earth and the gravity at its surface is 85 percent that of the Earth's surface.