Which of the planets in the solar system is closest to Earth? Anyone who is in the slightest degree familiar with astronomy will unequivocally answer: Mars or Venus. More precisely, Venus's orbit is closest to Earth's. However, the authors of the article published in the journal Physics Today argue: for more than half of the way in its orbit, Venus is not our closest neighbor. They calculated that, taking into account its orbit, much closer to the Earth and to other planets of our system is ... Mercury.
Scientists have developed an accurate model of the solar system, in which all planets move in their orbits. This allowed them to calculate the distance between them over thousands of years. By averaging these indicators, astronomers found out which planets are closest to each other at certain points in time.
As a result of calculations, the "temporary proximity" of Mercury to the Earth and other planets became obvious. As it turned out, each planet "spends" about half of its time on the opposite side of the Sun. As for Venus, although it comes closest to the Earth, most of the time it is still on the "other" side.
This is a completely different way of defining the "nearest planet". Before that, the distances between the planets were taken as the distances between their orbits. The result of the research confidently declares that the time has come to change the tradition that has developed over the centuries.