What Is The Closest Planet To Earth?

There are 8 planets in our solar system, with some a lot larger than others. The Earth is the third closest planet to the Sun, however, there are two planets that could constitute as being the closest to Earth.

However, just because there is a planet closest to us, doesn’t mean that they’re actually that close. They’re still millions of kilometers away. We’ve done research into the sizes of the planets closest to us and how close they are to Earth.

It’s a bit of a trick question really because there are two different planets that come closest to Earth at different times in their orbit around the Sun. Venus comes closest to the Earth as it passes by on its orbit around the Sun.

The farthest away that the planet comes to ours is around 261 kilometers away, but it passes by at 38 million kilometers at its closest. There’s a range of around 223 million kilometers between Venus’ farthest and closest points from the Earth.

Although Venus comes the closest, Mercury stays closer to Earth for a lot longer than the previously mentioned planet. Mercury only gets within around 77 million kilometers when at its closest to Earth, however, it stays closest for a lot longer than Venus.

The reason for this is because of the shape of Mercury’s orbit. As Venus coincides with Earth, it leaves again fairly soon after. Mercury in fact is the closest neighbor to every planet in our solar system, on average because of the length of time it spends next to each planet. 

So if you’re talking about distance then Venus is closer to Earth than Mercury, with under half the distance between our planet and Venus, than our planet and Mercury. Lots of sources will look at the average amount of time spent closest to us, crossing that with the distance.

This comes to the conclusion that Mercury is closer for longer, so is technically closest to us. It’s always best to double-check depending on which source you’re using as a reference.

Facts About Venus

It takes Venus longer to rotate once on its axis than it does to orbit once around the Sun. That means that it takes 243 Earth days to rotate once, which is the longest out of any other planet in our solar system. Venus then takes 224.7 Earth days to orbit the Sun, which means it takes just over 18 days more to rotate once around its axis than it does to orbit the Sun. Crazy!

Despite being further away from the Sun, Venus is actually hotter than Mercury. The mean temperature of the planet Venus is around 462 degrees-celsius due to the high concentration of carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere. Effectively, it creates a massive greenhouse effect, trapping the heat of the sun in the atmosphere like a blanket around the planet.

To some people, it’s common knowledge that the Earth rotates anti-clockwise on its axis. This is the same for every other planet in the solar system, except for Venus. The second-closest planet to the Sun spins clockwise on its axis because it sits upside down! The planet was knocked off its upright position early in its history.

It’s believed by astronomers that a colliding celestial body, or a star, tilted Venus off its original position, leaving it sitting upside-down. Every other planet in our solar system spins ‘normally’, except Uranus, which spins on its side. This is possibly due to a similar sort of collision that Venus once faced.

Venus, like all of the other planets in our solar system, is named after a Roman god or goddess. The planet is named after the Roman goddess frequently associated with love and beauty. She was the counterpart to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who was also often seen as the symbol of beauty and love.

The reason that the planets are named after Roman and Greek deities is that they were the first people to notice the planets visible to the naked eye. However, as you can tell, Earth is the only planet not named after a god or goddess because it was not regarded as a planet in ancient times.

Facts About Mercury

The planet Mercury is the closest to the Sun in our solar system, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the hottest. Mercury’s closet neighbor, Venus, is actually hotter than Mercury, despite being further away from the Sun.

Because of Venus’ atmosphere, the planet traps a lot of the carbon dioxide from its atmosphere, seeing temperatures increase to levels of around 465 degrees-celsius. This temperature is hot enough to melt lead!

Compared to Venus, the time it takes for Mercury to rotate on its axis is a lot smaller. With a day on Mercury spanning 58.7 Earth days, the planet has 0.38 times Earth’s gravity and has an atmosphere made of 42% oxygen. However, the air is not habitable for humans or life of any kind. A year on Mercury takes 88 Earth days, which is 277 days shorter than a year on our planet.

Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system. Mercury has a radius of 2440 kilometers. Compared to Earth’s size, this is about a third of the measurements of the planet that we call home. If Earth was the size of a nickel, Mercury would be roughly the size of a blueberry or anything of a similar size. If you were to unwrap and flatten out Mercury, then it would be about twice the size of Asia. Crazy!

On top of this, Mercury also has the most craters out of any planet in our solar system. Because of the planet’s weak atmosphere, there is next to no protection when asteroids and other missiles come plummetting towards the surface. This has given Mercury a very similar look to our moon and has the physical scars to show for it.

Much like every planet in our solar system, except for Earth, Mercury is named after an ancient deity. Named after the Roman messenger god, Mercury was first observed through telescopes in the 17th Century by astronomers Thomas Harriot and Galileo Galilei.

There is also a chemical element called Mercury, which gets its name from the red-colored planet. It was given this name because it flows in a fluid motion when in liquid form. 

Final Thoughts

Although there is some debate on which planet is closer to Earth, when it comes to distance, Venus is closest. With a distance of 38 million kilometers when closest, Venus comes closest to physical contact with the Earth, although the two will never meet. Other people believe that Mercury is closest to Earth because the planet spends the longest closest to ours.

Of course, it all comes down to interpretation and whichever you’re basing your findings on. However, if you need to answer the question based on distance then Venus is your answer, beating Mercury by 39 million kilometers at its closest.

There are plenty of facts and secrets to be found when researching the planets in our solar system, it’s just about knowing where to look and what you want to know. As long as you know where to start then you’ll be on the right track.

Gordon Watts