What would the sun look like from the surface of Mercury compared with our view of it from Earth? Since Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, the sun appears larger on Mercury than on Earth. This animation allows you to see a side-by-side comparison of the sun on both planets. When you open the animation, the two planets are at aphelion, or farthest from the sun in their orbits. On the left side of the screen is an image of the sun as seen from Earth while on the right side is an image of the sun as seen from Mercury. Right on the dividing line between the two images is a moving button that lets you get some more information about the image you are seeing or see a map of Mercury’s orbit around the sun. When you click on the “Info” button, you will also have the option to switch from the aphelion view to the perihelion, or closest to the sun.
By studying other planets like Mercury, students can add to their knowledge base about the solar system, its formation, and evolution. This animation can be used in the classroom to enhance a lesson on comparative planetology, where students compare Earth to Mercury. One of the obvious things about this animation that you could ask students to consider is why the sky on Mercury is black while the sky on Earth is blue. You could also have students swtich between the aphelion and perhelion views, paying close attention to what the sun looks like in both views.
Communicating and Learning about Global Climate Change
6-12 | Video
Using Data in the Classroom
6-12 | Teaching Aid
Gravity Assist Simulator
6-12 | Interactive