Mercury is a heavy, silvery-white liquid metal commonly referred to as quicksilver.
Mercury takes its name from both planet and Roman god with the same name. Mercury served as messenger between physical world and divine realm.
Human activity releases mercury into the environment, either naturally or through pollution.
Mercury, our closest planet to the Sun, travels around it faster than any other in our solar system. Romans named it after Mercury – their god of communication and transportation. According to Cool Cosmos, Mercury takes less than 88 days to circle our star. Due to its closeness with our sun, however, viewing Mercury from Earth is difficult except at twilight hours.
Mercury lacks an atmosphere to protect it from meteoroids, so its surface is littered with impact craters – the Caloris Basin being one of the biggest. Mercury’s rapid motion around the Sun earned it the moniker “the Quicksilver Planet,” according to Celsus who found a list of traditional metals associated with each planet by Origenes that dates back as far as 7th Century books by Celsus; Sun-gold; Moon-silver; Mercury -quicksilver; Venus -copper Mars -iron and Jupiter – lead.
Early alchemists used mercury as an integral component in their quest to find an Elixir of Life. They believed that with proper blends of elements they could turn it into gold; unfortunately however, mercury poisoning can result in death.
Mercury was widely used throughout the 19th century in household products like thermometers. Workers exposed to mercury-laced solutions in thermometer factories experienced headaches, sore or bleeding gums, upset digestive issues and difficulty focusing – symptoms known as the Danbury shakes which eventually lead to its ban in America.
Today, the only safe way to observe Mercury is via spacecraft; currently in orbit around it is MESSENGER creating detailed maps of its surface. Mercury is a rocky planet without liquid oceans but its metallic core can still be seen through its thick grayish-white crust; composed of iron, nickel and tin. Mercury’s crater-ridden surface may experience hot temperatures during the daytime hours but cold night-time temperatures ranging from 800 degrees Fahrenheit at its equator to as little as -290 Fahrenheit or -182 Celsius depending on latitude changes; temperatures vary greatly between day and night time!
Mercury, our solar system’s smallest planet, orbits around our sun at an impressively fast clip and has no moons to slow it down, prompting Romans to name it after their swift messenger god Mercury (NASA). They also associated him with Hermes who represents trade and theft – something which only takes 88 days according to Cool Cosmos!
Mercury was first observed by ancient cultures such as Greeks, Babylonians and Egyptians who noticed its constant visibility at night and rapid motion through the sky. Their observations fit with Nicolaus Copernicus’ 16th-century solar system model in which planets rather than Earth were at its core; Galileo made observations during his 17th-century studies showing Mercury had phases similar to Venus and Moon.
Romans called mercury “mercurio,” although its silvery hue earned it another name: quicksilver or argentum vivurn in Latin. By 1830, French chemist Etienne Francois Geoffroy created an alchemical elements table linking each metal with one of the planets; mercury’s link with Sun is still evident today. At that point in history, mercury became popularly known by its current name of mercury; though Englishman John Dalton may have used this moniker earlier.
At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, mercury became an indispensable asset to industry. It was used to enhance reflective properties in glass and other substances as well as used medicinally and thermometrically. Hat factories which used mercury were especially vulnerable, leading to health concerns which gave rise to the popular phrase, “mad as a hatter.” In Danbury Connecticut many hatmakers became sick from handling solutions containing mercuric nitrate solutions.
Mercury is an extremely reactive metal, meaning it reacts rapidly with other substances and poses serious danger when touched or inhaled, as well as potentially leading to brain damage in those who consume too much of it. Furthermore, mercury poisons fish and wildlife as well as being found in water sources – posing serious environmental concerns as a liquid metal is toxic both directly and indirectly.
The Babylonians were the first people to write about Mercury, calling it “mercure”. According to NASA, one of their first records of it can be found in an ancient tablet which dates back 3,000 years. Temple-centered Babylonia had various types of priests such as exorcists and diviners who read star signs to predict fateful outcomes for mankind and provide predictions. Furthermore, scientific literature in astronomy, mathematics, medicine, chemistry, botany and other topics was produced throughout their culture.
Mercury, being the closest planet to our sun and named after Roman god Mercury who symbolized travel and commerce, was believed to share some similarities to its speed in orbiting around it at night-to-day transitions with god Mercury himself. Perhaps its name also derives from its orbit around it faster than any other planet in our solar system?
Mercury stands in stark contrast to Earth in that its atmosphere traps heat and keeps the planet warm at night, while Mercury lacks any natural moons to help trap warmth and slow its rotation. As such, Mercury experiences extreme temperature swings between daytime heat and cold at night as no natural moons exist to help store heat or slow its rotation.
Scientists have also discovered that Mercury boasts only one percent of the strength of Earth’s magnetic field, driven by its large iron core. Being so close to the Sun causes Mercury’s magnetic field to fluctuate quickly as its energy absorbs much energy from sunlight causing changes to occur rapidly in its magnetic field.
Galileo utilized his telescope to observe Mercury as it appeared as a morning and evening star in their sky. By watching its phases over 60 days, he could determine that its rotation on its axis occurred every month.
Mercury was known by different names depending on whether it appeared morning or evening star, yet Greek astronomer Heraclitus recognized it was all one planet. Recently, scientists have observed an elevated radar reflection at one of Mercury’s poles which suggests it may contain water ice.
Mercury is the closest planet to our Sun and orbits it quickly compared to any other in our Solar System. Additionally, Mercury is also the smallest and doesn’t possess any moons; therefore earning itself its name from Roman god of communication and travel: Mercury.
Elementary mercury is an interesting element; its liquid form at room temperature and silvery hue are widely utilized by ancient people for everything from medicine to talismans. Due to its silvery appearance, ancient people commonly referred to this element as quicksilver or silver mercury; today its chemical symbol Hg comes from Greek hydrargyrum which means liquid silver. After 1787 and Antoine Lavoisier standardizing chemical names he introduced mercure as its formal name (some still refer to mercury by using its former term).
Mercury first made its first known appearance in China around 2nd century BC when it was found in the mineral cinnabar. Chinese alchemists sought ways to turn metal into gold, and mercury was seen as key. Due to its liquid state, mixing mercury with other substances proved easy – thus alchemists used mercury as the key ingredient to create potions believed to prolong health or even grant immortality.
Mercury orbits so close to the Sun that during its day, Mercury’s surface becomes intensely heated, reaching as high as 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 degrees Celsius). At nightfall however, temperatures plummet down to below freezing levels of minus 290F (0C). These extreme variations in temperature make Mercury an unforgettable planet in our Solar System.
Mercury, being so close to the Sun, lacks much atmosphere. This leaves it open to space debris from all directions; researchers believe the planet was heavily bombarded during both its initial formation 4.6 billion years ago and during what is known as Late Heavy Bombardment later on. Mercury’s surface has been littered with meteorite impacts, which have created flat plains similar to Moon marias; one major impact site, called Caloris Basin is large enough for Texas!