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Our Three Wacky Inner Planets: Imaginary, Delusionary and Inhabited

  • Geoffrey Kirby
Chapter
Part of the Astronomers' Universe book series (ASTRONOM)

Abstract

Can you name the planets that orbit our Sun inside Earth’s orbit? If you answered Mercury and Venus then you would have been correct, except for nearly three decades from the 1850s, when the answer would have been Vulcan, Mercury and Venus. We are familiar now with Planet Vulcan being the home of Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame, but that fictional planet was in orbit around a star named 40 Eridani A, a star 16.5 light years (a mere 98,000,000,000,000 miles) distant from Earth. This star is just visible to the unaided eye from the northern hemisphere in really dark skies. But the planet Vulcan that we are considering was a small planet in orbit around the Sun inside the orbit of Mercury believed to have been observed in 1859 and whose existence remained unconfirmed for over two decades. Eventually proof of its non-existence came from no less a luminary as Albert Einstein in 1915.

Notes and Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Kirby
    • 1
  1. 1.WeymouthUK

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