As the closest planet to us, people often wonder just how close Venus is. The truth is that in reality and in comparison to what we know on Earth, it’s still a very long way away. But in space terms, it’s actually pretty close; Venus is the brightest planet in our sky for a reason, and it’s not just because of its color. So, just how close exactly is Venus to Earth? We’re going to run through the average distance we are from the planet.
How many miles away is Venus from Earth?
The closest that Venus ever comes to Earth is approximately 0.26 AU, which equals 24.2 million miles. This may look like a lot, but it makes Venus the closest planet to us, and much closer than any other planet.
I say this – but how much closer are we to Venus than we are to Mars? Well, when Mars is at its farthest, it can be more than 2.5 AU away, which is around 10 times as far as Venus is. But at its closest, it can come within 38 million miles of our planet, so it’s still more than 50% further away than Venus is at its closest.
And actually, Venus can also drift a lot further from Earth than the short(ish) 24 million mile journey we may have to make. NASA have reported that Venus can actually be as far as 162 million miles away from our planet, which is more than 1.5 AU. So as you can see, timing of orbit makes a massive difference when it comes to the distances between two planets.
And actually, this is around the same distance between Venus and Mercury too. Venus lies around 0.6 AU from the Sun, which is one of the reasons why it has such a high temperature, with Mercury being a little closer than that. You can check out more Venus fun facts, or stay here where we’re going to look at the trip between the hottest planet in our solar system and the Earth.
Earth to Venus: The journey
You may wonder whether humans have ever sent spacecrafts to Venus, and the answer is yes, they have. Now, obviously there’s obviously not been any manned missions intended to land on Venus due to its ridiculously high temperature, but actually NASA have been thinking about sending a manned mission into its atmosphere to gather more data about the planet.
There have actually been more than 40 different space missions that have been launched to Venus, not all of them successfully. The 1960s were full of unsuccessful launched for the Soviet Union, with NASA making the first successful launched into the surrounding area of Venus in 1961. However, it was actually the cosmonauts who first landed successfully on Venus in 1972.
Since then, there has been many successful missions that have been launched to Venus, including Japan who launched a spacecraft there within the last decade or so. In the immediate future, NASA, the ESA and the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) have all got planned launches to Venus in the pipeline.
Unlike with many of the other planets, where we had to wait many years for the spacecraft to pass a planet, this isn’t the case with Venus. A spacecraft can be launched from Earth and make it to Venus in under a year – a drastic difference between how long it too the Voyager 2 to flyby Neptune (twelve long years!).
In conclusion, there is definitely enough interest in the planet Venus to warrant the many different trips to the planet we’ve made in the last few decades. They’ve been extremely important for learning more about the planet and its characteristics, especially noticing the similarities between Venus and our own planet.