Since Venus has 100 percent cloud cover, optical telescopes are
unable to reveal information about the surface. Most of what we
have learned about Venuss surface comes from images and data
gathered by various spacecraft and probes since the early 1960s.
In the early 1990s, the Magellan spacecraft produced detailed maps
of Venus's surface using imaging radar to penetrate the cloud cover.
The radar data showed that much of the surface of Venus is covered
by old lava flows. New data indicates that Venus still has active
Venuss bright clouds reflect a tremendous amount of sunlight,
making it the brightest object we can see in our sky, after the
Sun and Moon. It has been known to sky watchers since prehistoric
times, and has been worshipped by many cultures around the world.
Venus is easily seen with the unaided eye, binoculars, or a telescope.
In 2004 look for Venus after sunset throughout May, and in the
morning before sunrise from July through the end of the year.