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Space & Astronomy

Is Venus really the closest planet to Earth ?

March 15, 2019 | Comment icon 10 comments



An artist's impression of the planets in our solar system. Image Credit: NASA
In a new study, scientists have worked out that, on average, Mercury is actually closer to us than Venus.
The order of the planets in our solar system is one of the most fundamental facts in astronomy - from the Sun we have Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and then finally Neptune.

Now though, a trio of scientists has called this well-established ordering in to question by claiming that Mercury - not Venus - is the Earth's closest neighbor. But can this really be true ?

The key to this idea lies in looking at the average distance between each planet and the Earth as they orbit the sun. While Venus undoubtedly strays closer to the Earth than Mercury at its nearest point, it also strays a lot further from the Earth when it is at the opposite side of its orbit.
By calculating and adding up the average distances at each stage of the planets' orbits, it turns out that Mercury is actually closer to the Earth on average than Venus.

What's even more mind-boggling about this is that, based on the same logic, Mercury is actually the nearest neighbor of all the planets in the solar system.

A video explaining the science behind this in more detail can be viewed below.



Source: Physics Today | Comments (10)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by third_eye 3 years ago
No wonder those pesky aliens keep landing on earth by mistake ... ~
Comment icon #2 Posted by Taun 3 years ago
I had a High School Science teacher who always stressed that you should say, "The orbit of Venus, is closest to the Earth"...
Comment icon #3 Posted by Piney 3 years ago
Mercury's core size indicates it might of been a gas giant pulled closer and stripped by the sun. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by spud the mackem 3 years ago
How do they work this one out , does it mean that Mercury crosses Venus' path (in front or behind ) to get closer to us ,  or Venus crosses the Mercury orbit and gets closer to the sun  , lets have some proof from the person who thought up this one .
Comment icon #5 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 3 years ago
Or try reading the link that literally explains it all.
Comment icon #6 Posted by and then 3 years ago
I had one who always corrected us about calling "black" or "white", colors.  He said white was a combination of all colors and black was a total absence of colors.  yeah, he really was as popular as you'd expect  
Comment icon #7 Posted by Rlyeh 3 years ago
Neither.  It's talking about the average distance.  For examples, when Venus is on the opposite side of the Sun to Earth, Mercury will be closer.
Comment icon #8 Posted by acute 3 years ago
At present, the closest thing to Earth is Nibiru. DUCK AND COVER !!!
Comment icon #9 Posted by Essan 3 years ago
No, it's quite logical really Venus has a long orbit and is often on the opposite side of the Sun to Earth, so farther away.  Same with Mars.   Mercury has a much shorter orbit and is therefore more often closer to the Earth.  So whilst Venus has the closest orbit, more often Mercury is actually the closest planet to Earth on account of both planets being more regularly on the same side of the Sun at the same time.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Jon the frog 3 years ago
So it's easier most of the time to send something on Mercury than Venus. Mercury is a cooked rock and Venus an acidic inferno, choose another vacation site.


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