What Planet is Closest to Earth Right Now?

When asked which planet is closest to Earth, most would likely answer Venus – which makes sense given that it travels along its shortest orbit more frequently and thus comes closer to us more frequently.

Mercury is actually the correct answer: from now until early August it is in opposition with Earth and this proximity can be called opposition.


Mercury, our closest planet in our solar system, orbits around it every 88 Earth days at top speed – faster than any other planet by far! However, due to its highly elliptical orbital path it can get as close as 29 million miles or 43 million miles from its Sun at any one time (perihelion/apogee).

Mercury resembles our Moon in many respects with its rocky, icy surface and blue-white hue, while its atmosphere boasts large amounts of hydrogen and tiny particles of helium that glow brightly as the planet spins in space. When seen from Earth, observers may even detect shimmering trails of glowing gases as shimmering trails on Earth’s horizon at times known as elongation; Mercury also becomes visible during a total solar eclipse when it moves in front of the Sun and appears as a black circle within the Moon’s shadow.

Mercury’s proximity to the Sun and fast spin has caused it to quickly heat up, becoming an extremely hot planet at its core. Meanwhile, as time progresses its rocky crust gradually cools and hardens away from this point; this process also reduced mass and volume over time and caused Mercury to shrink over time becoming one of the smallest planets in our Solar System.

Finding out which planet is closest to Earth can be tricky due to all of the various ways distance can be measured between planets. Scientists employ an averaging technique that averages the distance between multiple points on each orbit based on time considerations; this approach has revealed that on average Mercury is closer than Venus or Mars.

BepiColombo, the new spacecraft operating under joint European and Japanese space agencies, is making its journey toward Mercury with plans to undertake an in-depth examination of this intriguing planet. After traveling for approximately three years, bepiColombo should enter orbit around Mercury sometime around 2021 where it will study both its surface as well as its mysterious magnetic fields.


Venus is the third-brightest object in our sky after the Sun and Moon, often known as “the morning star” or “evening star.” It appears just before sunset or sunrise depending on the time of year; though visible during broad daylight.

Venus, Earth’s nearest neighbor in our solar system, and home to one of its hottest planets with a dense atmosphere composed of carbon dioxide and sulphur is nearly impossible for probes to penetrate its surface, while sending humans would likely end up deadly.

People generally answer that Venus is the closest planet, which may be partially explained by how its orbit brings it close to our home planet. However, the answer lies more within how distances between planets are measured than is commonly perceived.

Finding our nearest planets is easiest by subtracting their average distances from our Sun, but this only accounts for their closeness during a particular period of their orbital paths. To know which is closest during all its cycles, a different formula must be applied when calculating distances.

Venus can vary its distances significantly over time and from month to month; as a result, it may appear close one month and then far away in another month and half. Due to these erratic distances, spotting Venus may be difficult, but here are a few factors you should keep in mind when searching for this planet.

Venus can best be observed when it is at its closest approach to both Earth and Sun; this phenomenon is known as inferior conjunction. At this stage, Venus passes directly behind the Sun before emerging again as an evening star later that day. On rare occasions when all alignment is perfect between Sun, Earth and Venus, you might witness it appearing as a black spot crossing–or transiting–the disk of Sun.


Mars plays an influential role in our culture and imagination, yet is frequently mistakenly believed to be Earth’s closest planet. This misconception stems from people’s tendency to calculate distance between planets using average distance from Sun as the basis for calculating proximity – while that does work, it does not account for finding which planets may actually be nearest at any particular time.

With this method of measurement, Mercury is actually the closest planet. It spends the longest amount of time orbiting near Earth, and at its closest approach approaches us more directly than Venus – leading most people to assume it as being the answer when asked “Which planet is closest to us at present?”

At its closest approach, Mars is less than 56 million miles from Earth; significantly closer than its average distance of 243 million miles and within our visual reach – yet many mistakenly believe we can see it with naked eye.

Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thick atmosphere and features such as impact craters, valleys, deserts and polar ice caps on its surface. Additionally, two small moons known as Phobos and Deimos may have once been asteroids captured by Mars’ gravitational pull;

Mars travels an elliptical orbit around our Sun and experiences four distinct seasons as it traverses its orbit. When Mars is closest to our star, its southern hemisphere tilts toward our star and its temperature heats up during summer; at its farthest distance from us however, Mars experiences cold winter months.

When Mars was at its closest approach to Earth in 2003, crowds of people flocked to parks, museums and planetariums across the globe in order to witness this rare occurrence. Though Mars wasn’t expected to make another close approach until 2035, NASA took advantage of their closeness by sending golf-cart-sized rovers Spirit and Opportunity on an eighteen month mission exploring Mars’ surface.

The two rovers discovered evidence of flowing water and other signs that suggest life once existed on Mars. Both continued operating long past their three-month missions were scheduled to conclude, until only recently being shut down due to a dust storm.


Astronomy can be both fascinating and perplexing. There are so many planets with unique properties and appearances, along with an overwhelming amount of data to take into account, that it’s no wonder beginners often struggle to grasp this subject. When considering which planet is closest to Earth at any given moment? There may be multiple answers depending on how the orbits work; depending on this factor alone one may come closer or farther from our Sun than another, which may cause it to be farther from us at different points in time – often making its answer less than clear cut; however there are general rules of thumb that should help when trying to answer this question – this question remains open-ended but rules of thumb that can help novice astronomy enthusiasts can follow.

Jupiter is an impressive site from any angle – whether gazing upon it with naked eyes in your backyard, through an eyepiece on a telescope in space, or from any spacecraft orbiting above our Solar System. As our biggest planet and most massive ball of gas with stripes of thick clouds resembling stripes of stripes. Famously known for its Great Red Spot storm that has been raging for centuries – and home to 92 moons including Europa (an intriguing world).

This week, Jupiter is approaching Earth at an unprecedented proximity. While not directly touching us, Jupiter will come closer than it has in nearly six decades at what’s known as opposition, which occurs once every year when Jupiter appears directly opposite to the Sun in our skies and allows a perfectly straight line between our planet and Jupiter’s position to be drawn – reports SpaceSky.

This will enable you to witness Jupiter like never before; its brightness will increase dramatically and it will take on a distinctive reddish hue. Furthermore, you’ll be able to spot many of its moons, such as Io, which boasts active volcanoes. Jupiter is composed largely of hydrogen and helium – scientists estimate it would have become a star if it had been about 80 times bigger. First observed by Galileo in 1610, Jupiter has since been studied through spacecraft and telescopes alike.

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