This is a photograph of Venus, taken on 31 January 2001 from Belcamp, Maryland. I used my Nikon Coolpix 950 digital camera and my Celestron 8" telescope. The surface of Venus isn't visible from Earth. It is covered by a thick layer of clouds, so it appears as a bright white object most of the time. The hints of color visible in this photo are artifacts from the camera and the telescope optics. Since Venus orbits closer to the sun than Earth, we see it go through a series of phases, just like the moon does every month. These phases occur for the exact same reason as the Moon's- the changing angles between the Sun, Venus, and the Earth present us with varying degrees of illumination.