Venus orbits the Sun at an average distance of about 0.72 AU (108 million km; 67 million mi), and completes an orbit every 224.7 days. Although all planetary orbits are elliptical, Venus’s orbit is the closest to circular, with an eccentricity of less than 0.01.[2] When Venus lies between Earth and the Sun in inferior conjunction, it makes the closest approach to Earth of any planet at an average distance of 41 million km (25 million mi).[2] The planet reaches inferior conjunction every 584 days, on average.[2] Because of the decreasing eccentricity of Earth’s orbit, the minimum distances will become greater over tens of thousands of years. From the year 1 to 5383, there are 526 approaches less than 40 million km; then there are none for about 60,158 years.[96] All the planets in the Solar System orbit the Sun in a counterclockwise direction as viewed from above Earth’s north pole. Most planets also rotate on their axes in an anti-clockwise direction, but Venus rotates clockwise in retrograde rotation once every 243 Earth days—the slowest rotation of any planet. Because its rotation is so slow, Venus is very close to spherical.[97] A Venusian sidereal day thus lasts longer than a Venusian year (243 versus 224.7 Earth days). Venus’s equator rotates at 6.52 km/h (4.05 mph), whereas Earth’s rotates at 1,669.8 km/h (1,037.6 mph).[98] Venus’s rotation has slowed down in the 16 years between the Magellan spacecraft and Venus Express visits; each Venusian sidereal day has increased by 6.5 minutes in that time span.[99] Because of the retrograde rotation, the length of a solar day on Venus is significantly shorter than the sidereal day, at 116.75 Earth days (making the Venusian solar day shorter than Mercury’s 176 Earth days).[100] One Venusian year is about 1.92 Venusian solar days.[101] To an observer on the surface of Venus, the Sun would rise in the west and set in the east,[101] although Venus’s opaque clouds prevent observing the Sun from the planet’s surface.[102] Venus may have formed from the solar nebula with a different rotation period and obliquity, reaching its current state because of chaotic spin changes caused by planetary perturbations and tidal effects on its dense atmosphere, a change that would have occurred over the course of billions of years. The rotation period of Venus may represent an equilibrium state between tidal locking to the Sun’s gravitation, which tends to slow rotation, and an atmospheric tide created by solar heating of the thick Venusian atmosphere.[103][104] The 584-day average interval between successive close approaches to Earth is almost exactly equal to 5 Venusian solar days,[105] but the hypothesis of a spin–orbit resonance with Earth has been discounted.[106] Venus has no natural satellites.[107] It has several trojan asteroids: the quasi-satellite 2002 VE68[108][109] and two other temporary trojans, 2001 CK32 and 2012 XE133.[110] In the 17th century, Giovanni Cassini reported a moon orbiting Venus, which was named Neith and numerous sightings were reported over the following 200 years, but most were determined to be stars in the vicinity. Alex Alemi’s and David Stevenson’s 2006 study of models of the early Solar System at the California Institute of Technology shows Venus likely had at least one moon created by a huge impact event billions of years ago.[111] About 10 million years later, according to the study, another impact reversed the planet’s spin direction and caused the Venusian moon gradually to spiral inward until it collided with Venus.[112] If later impacts created moons, these were removed in the same way. An alternative explanation for the lack of satellites is the effect of strong solar tides, which can destabilize large satellites orbiting the inner terrestrial planets.

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