Venus Moons: How Many Moons Does Venus Have?

Venus does not have any moons. This is because any moon orbiting Venus would be in an unstable orbit and would most likely be swallowed by the mammoth gravitational pull of the sun.

Whenever we look up at the night sky, we see a greyish white object hung among thousands of other visible stars. It also seems to be pockmarked by a lot of dark spots. This object stands out amongst others due to its sheer size and brilliance compared to other celestial bodies. Come on, by now you know we’re talking about the moon!

cute moon

Moon – the only natural satellite of ‘the blue planet’

Earth has only one natural satellite, which we generally refer to as ‘the moon’. Fun fact: All natural satellites of other planets have been given proper names, but our natural satellite is just called the moon. The moon, just like any other natural satellite, revolves around our planet in a well-defined orbit. With the exception of Mercury and Venus, every planet of our solar system has at least one moon, but first, let’s talk about Venus.

Position-wise, it’s an immediate neighbor of Earth, and in terms of shape and size, it is so similar to Earth that it’s often referred to as Earth’s twin planet.

venus

Is there some reason that it’s deprived of a moon of its own?

Moons of Venus: Does Venus have moons?

No, Venus does not have any moons. Mercury, Venus’ immediate neighbor, also does not have any moons.

Coming after Venus in the planetary sequence is our home planet, Earth, which has one moon revolving around it. Mars, the next planet along, has 2 moons. Jupiter has 67 moons, Saturn has 62 moons, Uranus has 27 moons and Neptune has 14 moons.

Why doesn’t Venus have moons?

The absence of moons around Venus is mostly attributed to Venus’ proximity to the sun (Source). You see, Venus is only 108.2 million kilometers away from the sun. While this may sound like a lot, when one is dealing with distances between planets and a star, it’s not really that far at all!

venus

Venus is the second planet in the solar system.

Being so close to the sun means that not only does it receive a lot of solar radiation, but it also experiences very high gravitational pull from the sun. Gravitation follows the inverse square law, which means that the closer two objects are, the higher the gravitational force is between them. Furthermore, being such a humongous star, the sun has a huge amount of mass, which further accentuates the force with which it pulls other celestial bodies.

Mercury and Venus do not have moons because they are too close to the sun to have a reasonable gravitational influence of their own on a neighboring celestial body. A moon that is too far away from them would be in an unstable orbit, and would consequently be pulled in and captured by the mighty sun tugging on it with its monstrously high gravitational pull.

On the other hand, if the orbiting moon is too close to the planet, it would be torn apart by strong tidal forces. Or, in the case of Venus, the moon would lose energy due to atmospheric friction and crash into the planet.

The region around Venus where a moon could ‘potentially’ orbit is so narrow that no celestial body was ever captured within it.

Venus ‘might’ have had a moon in the past

Astronomers believe that Venus hasn’t always been deprived of a moon.

venus with moon

Venus might have had a moon millions of years ago.

One hypothesis, proposed by Alex Alemi and David Stevenson of the California Institute of Technology in 2006, claims that in the early days of the formation of the solar system, Venus must have been bombarded by many asteroids, which released large quantities of ejecta into Venus’ orbit. These countless pieces would have then coalesced to form a moon, which is basically how Earth’s moon was formed millions of years ago.

However, due to the retrograde spin of the planet (which was caused by another asteroid impact), the moon’s orbit might have been destabilized, causing it to crash into Venus, leaving the planet ‘moonless’.

References

  1. NASA.gov
  2. University of Northern Iowa
  3. Spaceplace NASA
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About the Author:

Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spends a lot of time watching movies, and an awful lot more time discussing them. He likes Harry Potter and the Avengers, and obsesses over how thoroughly Science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

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