What is the closest planet to Mercury? As you probably know, Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, orbiting at an average distance of 57.9 million km. So then, what planet gets closest to Mercury in orbit.
The answer, of course is Venus, the 2nd closest planet to the Sun. Venus orbits at an average distance of 108.2 million km. So, how close can Mercury and Venus get? Well when I said that Mercury orbits at 57.9 million km, that’s actually an average. Mercury follows an elliptical orbit around the Sun. At its closest point, Mercury gets to within 46 million km, and then at its most distant point, it gets to be 69.8 million km.
And Venus also travels in an elliptical orbit, varying between 107.4 million km and 108.9 million km. So, when the two planets are closest to one another in orbit, the distance between them is about 37.6 million km. And at their most distant point, they can get to be 178.7 million km.
Can Earth ever be closer to Mercury than Venus? Earth’s orbit ranges between 147.1 and 152.1 million km. So when Earth and Mercury are at their closest point, they’re only separated by 77.3 million km. What this means is that there are times when Earth is actually closer to Mercury than Venus; although, most of the time, Venus is the closest planet.
We have written many stories about Mercury here on Universe Today. Here’s an article about a side of Mercury never before seen by spacecraft, and how Mercury is actually less like the Moon than previously believed.
We have also recorded a whole episode of Astronomy Cast that’s just about planet Mercury. Listen to it here, Episode 49: Mercury.
Más cercano al planeta Mercurio