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.