These images taken near Venus show how bright the planet is

Two probes, SolarOrbiter and BepiColombo, passed close to Venus.

In the celestial vault, the “star” is especially bright, so much so that when it appears in the east or in the west, it is the most visible of all. It is actually the light of our neighboring planet, Venus, whose nickname “Shepherd’s Star” derives from its strong luster because it allowed it to settle to the rhythm of day/night – it is the first to appear, and therefore one of the first visible signs at night.

This strong luminosity can be explained today: Venus is the most reflective of the solar system. Its atmosphere is actually made up largely of opaque clouds made of sulfuric acid. As a result, the albedo of the planet is the highest in the entire system, about 75%: that is, the sun’s rays “bounce” when they reach Venus, making the planet very bright.

At the beginning of August 2021, two sensors, SolarOrbiter and BépiColombo, passed near the planet.

Presented by Solar Orbiter

On August 8, 2021, the Solar Orbiter probe passed close to Venus at a distance of 7,995 kilometers. On this occasion, its video capture system, Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Image, recorded a new view of the planet. This again makes it possible to observe the brilliance of the planet, which is unique in the planetary neighborhood.

« The images show Venus approaching from the left while the Sun is out of sight at the top right. The night side of the planet, the part hidden from the sun, appears as a dark semicircle surrounded by a luminous crescent – the glow of the incredibly bright sunny side of Venus. “,” describe NASA.

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On the space agency’s website, astrophysicist Philip Hess explains that the sunny part of the planet is too bright, and therefore sends so many signals, that it prevents us from analyzing the properties of the dark part of the planet, sheltered by the sun. ” The images show only a daytime facial glow, but it reflects sunlight enough to cause crescent light and diffracted rays that appear to originate from the surface. Explains astrophysicist Philip Hess.

Show by BepiColombo

It so happened that a few days later – on August 10, it was the turn of the BepiColombo probe to pass right next to Venus, but close to it: it approached 3446 km, and then to 552 km. So there are two sequences: one where we see Venus from afar, and the other so close that the planet takes up all the space on the image. Either way, the planet’s luminosity is amazing. Furthermore, the European Space Agency specifies that even nearby, ” The camera is unable to capture the details of the planet’s atmosphere ».

Passage near Venus BépiColombo. // Source: ESA

In the first image (in the static version below), the ESA indicates that ” The spaceship was still on the night side of the planet, but the day side could be seen looming on the horizon ».

BepiCombo passing close to Venus. Here he refers to the night side, but we can see the sunny side looming over the horizon. // Source: ESA / Jaxa

The part where the sun is reflected is actually so bright that it’s actually visible, in the lower left, even when the camera is pointed all the way close to the night side.

Photo credit for the person:
NASA / European Space Agency

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