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Mercury -- Not Venus -- is the Closest Planet To Earth on Average, New Research Finds - Slashdot

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That's the finding presented by a team of scientists who have published their results this week in an article in the magazine Physics Today. From a report: They explain that our methods of calculating which planet is "the closest" oversimplifies the matter. But that's not all. "Further, Mercury is the closest neighbor, on average, to each of the other seven planets in the solar system," they write. Wait -- what?

Our misconceptions about how close the planets are to one another comes from the way we usually estimate the distances to other planets. Normally, we calculate the average distance from the planet to the Sun. The Earth's average distance is 1 astronomical unit (AU), while Venus' is around 0.72 AU. If you subtract one from the other, you calculate the average distance from Earth to Venus as 0.28 AU, the smallest distance for any pair of planets. But a trio of researchers realized that this isn't an accurate way to calculate the distances to planets. After all,...(continued)

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