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Did you know you can use an inexpensive webcam to capture images of planets and other objects in the night sky?

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A Light Year

Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun.

Mercury Facts
  1. Mercury is the closes planet to the sun.
  2. Mercury is the second smallest planet.
  3. Mercury is the second densest planet in the Solar System after Earth.
  4. Mercury is sometimes called the evening "star" when it is near where the sun has set, or as a the morning "star" when it near where the sun will rise.
  5. Mercury is one of the five planets known to the ancients.
  6. Mercury was the "winged messenger" of the Roman gods.
  7. Mercury travels around the sun - about 40,000 mph faster than Earth. In Metrics: 167,400 kph.
  8. Mercury was believed by the Greeks to be two different stars. Mercury's appearance in the morning was called Apollo, and its evening appearance was referred to as Hermes.
For the most part, Mercury looks much like a smaller version of our Moon, even when viewed through a telescope. A common viewing will have it in a partial view, somewhat like a phase of the Moon.
Mercury is the most difficult of the five planets known to the ancients to see. It is as bright as the bright stars, but, because its small orbit is inside the Earth's, it never gets more than two hours away from the Sun. Therefore, we usually see it in the dawn or evening twilight.
Messenger will begin its long journey to Mercury, in 2004. It will be loaded with special instruments to study the surface and interior of the tiny planet. Probably the most important goal of the mission is the search for ice near the polar craters. Messenger will be the first mission to Mercury since the Mariner 10 flyby in 1975.
To the Teutonic peoples, the planet was named for their god Woden. Wednesday (wodnesdaeg in anglo-saxon) is named for him.



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