Mercury Facts -Top 6 Interesting Facts About Mercury

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The mysteries of our heliocentric planetary system will always be a riddle to be solved. One of the yet to be solved is mysteries about mercury. In this article, I will try to uncover the Top 6 Interesting Facts About Mercury.

I mean the coolest facts Like how did mercury get its name to the question like how the perihelion precession of mercury helped Einstein to prove his general relativity? I can bet you will be completely thrilled by the end of the article.


How Did Mercury Get Its Name?

One of the Most Interesting facts about Mercury is How Did Mercury Get Its Name !!! I mean it is still a mystery to be solved when was mercury discovered. Or, who discovered mercury?

On the contrary, do we know exactly what is mercury named after.

Indian View

Budha – a member of Navgraha/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As I hail from India, so I will give the explanation as an Indian First How Did Mercury Get Its Name? Well, according to the sacred Indian scriptures, Planet Mercury is known as Budha Graha (planet).

Must read, Great Scientists & Critical Thinkers Of Ancient India

Well, in Hindu Mythology, Budha is regarded as a Sacred Deity. He is the son of Soma (Moon God). In fact, Wednesday (Budhavaar) is also regarded as the day of Planet Mercury (Budha Graha). Well, you can say that the planet Mercury in Hindi is called Budha Graha.

Western View

Well, according to the western scriptures, for centuries ancient Greeks used to believe Mercury as two different entities.

Mercury – Roman God Of Messenger/Credit: Google Sites

I mean, in the morning sky they called it Planet Hermes. Whereas, in the evening sky, they called it Planet Apollo. Later around 350 BC, they realized that they are not two but one. Therefore, named it after the Roman Messenger God i.e Mercury.

Similarly in different cultures, Mercury has been called by different names. For example, like in ancient China; Chinese people used to call it Hour Star.

Or, like for Korean, Japanese, or Vietnamese culture, they call it Water Star. On the other hand, if I talk about antiquity times, ancient Babylonians used to call the planet mercury Planet Nabu.


What Is Mercury Made of?

The next one in the list of my top 6 interesting facts about mercury is the unknown composition of mercury. It is a well-known fact that Mercury is the smallest planet in the solar system.

On the other hand, Mercury is also the closest planet to the Sun. Therefore, due to mercury’s distance from the sun, Mercury is a very difficult planet to visit like all other planets and moons of the solar system.

For this reason, it is a very difficult task to estimate what is mercury made of? In fact, till today, only two space probes (named Mariner 10 in 1974 and The Messenger in 2004)  have ever visited mercury to gather information about mercury.

Structure And Composition Of Mercury

An overview composition of mercury/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

According to the information gathered and analyzed by the experts, this rocky planet has a huge iron core. A monstrous core that makes up to 70 percent of the total mass of mercury. And, that makes Mercury the densest planet of the solar system (Of course after Earth).

According to the research published by geologists and planetary scientists, Mercury has a molten core that occupies approximately 55 % of the total volume of mercury.

On the other hand, if I talk about the surface features of mercury, this grey-colored planet is more like Earth’s Natural Satellite. I mean, just like Moon, it has so many craters, wrinkles, highlands, mountains, valleys, etc.

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The largest crater on Mercury is known as the Caloris Basin. And, the radius of Mercury is approximately about 2439.7 km. If you don’t know, the color of mercury is grey. I mean that’s why I called mercury a grey planet.


How Many Moons Does Mercury Have?

The next one in the list of my Top 6 Interesting Facts about mercury is moons of mercury. Well, almost every planet of the solar system has its own natural satellites. The only two exceptions are Venus and, of course, Mercury.

One of the most bizarre facts about mercury is that this grey planet does not have any moon. And, yes, no rings too. After all, have you ever wondered why mercury has no moons?

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I mean, for centuries; stargazers and obviously, daydreamers have wondered why in actuality mercury does not have any moon…!!!

Well, according to the latest scientific data available, mercury’s distance from the sun is regarded as the sole reason for mercury not having any moon of its own.

I mean let’s say that, even if mercury is somehow able to capture one asteroid (just like earth captured our moon). It won’t be able to hold it for long.

Simply because the sun’s gravitational pull will interfere with and attract anything toward itself. So, that’s why mercury is not in the position to have any moon of its own. And that is actually sad…!!!


Does Mercury Have An Atmosphere?

Well, Mercury does have an atmosphere. But, the atmosphere of mercury is actually very thin as compared to the rest of the planets of the solar system.

According to the research paper published by the scientific community, there could be two main reasons for the thinness of the mercury’s atmosphere.

One reason could be the gravity of mercury i.e 37 % of the gravity of the earth. And, the other reason is that mercury is tidally locked with the sun; in the same way, the moon is tidally locked with the earth.

Due to its low gravity, planet mercury is not able to hold on to its atmosphere. The strong solar winds coming from the sun can easily blow away the atmosphere of mercury. On the other hand, mercury’s tidal locking with the sun does not allow it to retain any of its atmosphere for a long time.

In fact, people often ask questions like how hot is mercury? Or, how cold is mercury? Or, simply; what is the temperature of mercury? Well, the answer to all these kinds of questions lies in the vicinity of the mercury’s tidal locking with the sun.

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The side of the mercury surface facing the sun can get hotter to 800° F. On the other hand, the side that is not facing the sun can get colder to – 280° F.


How Long Is A Day On Mercury?

Again, due to its tidal locking with the Sun, the mercury period of rotation has slowed over time. Therefore, as a result of this elongated rotation of mercury, a day on mercury is about 58.65 Earth days.

On the other hand, a year on Mercury takes about 88 earth days. Hence, making it the shortest year of any planet of the solar system.


Perihelion Precession Of Mercury Proved General Relativity

Perihelion precession of mercury helped to prove general relativity/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Last but not least one in my list of top 6 interesting facts about mercury is the perihelion precession of mercury.

Astronomers had observed for a long time that mercury’s elliptical path around the sun shifts (precess) a little bit whenever it passes through the sun’s perihelion (closest point to the sun).

But, there was no exact explanation accounting for that shift. In fact, Newton’s Laws Of Motion had predicted the approximated value to be accounted for that shift.

But it was Einstein’s General Theory Of Relativity that gave the correct value accounting for that shift. And, in return, the perihelion precession of mercury helped Albert Einstein to prove his General Relativity.

In my view, these were the best facts about mercury. Well, I am not denying it, there could be others too. But for me, these facts were the best suitable ones. What do you think? Do you have any other in your mind? Let me know in the comment section.

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I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my career, and therefore I did my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every aspect of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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