Mercury is the smallest and innermost planet in the Solar System.
Its orbit around the Sun takes only 87.97 days, making it the fastest moving planet. Mercury is not easily visible from Earth as it is usually obscured by clouds or lost in the Sun’s glare. However, during a total solar eclipse, when the Moon moves between Mercury and Earth, it can be seen as a small black dot silhouetted against the Sun’s bright face.
Here are ten fun facts about Mercury:
1. It is named after the Roman god of commerce and messenger of the gods, because it appears to move so quickly across the sky.
2. It has a very thin atmosphere made up of oxygen, sodium, hydrogen, helium and potassium.
3. The surface of Mercury is covered in craters caused by collisions with meteoroids.
4. It has no moons or rings.
5. You wouldn’t want to take a swim in mercury’s oceans even if there was water there, due too its closeness to the sun, evaporated water would blast you off into space!
6. The temperature on Mercury’s surface can range from -173 degrees Celsius at night to 427 degrees Celsius during the day! Despite being closer to the Sun, Mercury actually has colder temperatures than Pluto. The side of Mercury facing away from the Sun can get as cold as -173 degrees Celsius (-279 Fahrenheit).
7. If you were standing on Mercury’s surface, you would see the sun rise approximately every 176 Earth days. One day on Mercury lasts 176 Earth days. This is because Mercury rotates very slowly on its axis, taking 59 Earth days to complete one full rotation.
8. Although it is not currently known for certain, scientists believe that there may be water ice hidden in some of its craters. Although it looks like a barren wasteland now, scientists believe that water once flowed freely on the surface of mercury. Traces of water have been found in some of mercury’s craters.
9. It’s believed that long ago a giant impact caused mercury’s iron core to form, which makes up 62% of its overall mass.
10. Like Venus, one side of mercury always faces towards the sun while the other side faces away giving us what we call “day” and “night” sides.