Mercury is located on Observatory Road, 27 kilometres west of Coonabarabran. In our model, Mercury is just 1.2 kilometres from the telescope dome (the Sun). In the real Solar System, Mercury is 58 million kilometres from the Sun!
Mercury was named by the Greeks after the fleet-footed messenger of the gods because this “wandering star” (the meaning of the Greek word ‘planet’) moved so quickly through the sky. Mercury is a small, rocky and heavily cratered world. Why? The Sun’s gravity causes smaller objects from deep in space to be drawn towards the Sun. Which planet is standing next to the target? Mercury! Although closest to the Sun, Mercury is not the hottest planet. With virtually no atmosphere to warm it, the Sun side of Mercury has a temperature in excess of 400°C whilst the dark side is nearly the coldest place in the Solar System with temperatures averaging minus 180°C! Mercury has no moons.