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Traditional Geocache

GSS01: Mercury - Geolympix Solar System

Hidden : 3/30/2012
In Southern England, United Kingdom
Difficulty:
3 out of 5
Terrain:
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: other (other)

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Geocache Description:

The Geolympix Solar System Series was inspired by a visit to Zürich in 2010, where I saw a 1:1bn scale solar system. GSS caches are hidden at scale distances from the 'sun'; the 2.32m diameter golden globe atop West Wycombe's St Lawrence church.

Based on a 1:600,000,000 scale, each cache contains a planet to the same scale and is sited at the correct distance from the globe. Thus, if you could see it from the Earth cache, the golden globe would appear to be 1/2 of a degree across, just as the sun appears from the Earth. Between Mercury & Uranus are six numbers to collect, marked A to F. You'll need these to find further GSS caches - As a bit of help, A+B+C+D+E+F=25. Happy hunting!

A word on scale: It might help you to visualise the size of the solar system to know the fastest speed anything can travel - the speed of light - is fractionally under 50cm per second at this scale; 1.12mph or a very slow walking pace. It takes light around 3m12s to reach Mercury from the sun, or 8m18s to reach the Earth. Eris (beyond Pluto) is almost 14 light HOURS away from the Sun. At the same scale, a cache 1 light year's distance away would be around the other side of the planet, about 9,804.3 miles or 15,778.5Km away. The very furthest I could place a cache (in the middle of the sea) would be 1.267 light years (463 light days) away, at S51° 38.840 E179° 11.648. The nearest star is 3 1/3 times further away; 4.24 light years. Earth's moon (238,855 miles/384,400 km) is a scale distance of 24.36 light years away; a sphere that size would contain the nearest 180-ish stars. Too large to imagine? Sedna, one of the dwarf planets orbiting our sun beyond Pluto, can reach as far as Hull at the scale of this 'model'!

Mercury is the innermost and smallest planet in the Solar System, orbiting the Sun once every 87.969 Earth days. The orbit of Mercury has the highest eccentricity of all the Solar System planets, and it has the smallest axial tilt. It completes three rotations about its axis for every two orbits. The perihelion of Mercury's orbit precesses around the Sun at an excess of 43 arcseconds per century, a phenomenon that was explained in the 20th century by Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Mercury is bright when viewed from Earth, ranging from −2.3 to 5.7 in apparent magnitude, but is not easily seen as its greatest angular separation from the Sun is only 28.3°. Since Mercury is normally lost in the glare of the Sun, unless there is a solar eclipse it can be viewed only for short intervals before sunrise when it is near its maximum western elongation, or after sunset when near its maximum eastern elongation. At relatively high latitudes such as those of many European and North American population centres, it is even then near the horizon and obscured in a relatively bright twilit sky. However, at tropical and subtropical latitudes, Mercury is more easily seen because of two effects. (i) the Sun ascends above the horizon more steeply at sunrise and descends more steeply at sunset, so the twilight period is shorter, and (ii) at the right times of year, the Ecliptic intersects the horizon at a very steep angle, meaning that Mercury can be relatively high (altitude up to 28°) in a fully dark sky. Such conditions can pertain, for instance, after sunset near the Spring Equinox, in March/April for the southern USA and in September/October for South Africa and Australasia. Conversely, pre-sunrise viewing is easiest near the Autumn Equinox.

Comparatively little is known about Mercury; ground-based telescopes reveal only an illuminated crescent with limited detail. The first of two spacecraft to visit the planet was Mariner 10, which mapped about 45% of its surface from 1974 to 1975. The second is the MESSENGER spacecraft, which attained orbit around Mercury on March 17, 2011, to map the rest of the planet.

Mercury is similar in appearance to the Moon: it is heavily cratered with regions of smooth plains, has no natural satellites and no substantial atmosphere. Unlike the Moon, it has a large iron core, which generates a magnetic field about 1% as strong as that of the Earth. It is an exceptionally dense planet due to the large relative size of its core. Surface temperatures range from about 90 to 700 K (−183 °C to 427 °C), with the subsolar point being the hottest and the bottoms of craters near the poles being the coldest.

Recorded observations of Mercury date back to at least the first millennium BC. Before the 4th century BC, Greek astronomers believed the planet to be two separate objects: one visible only at sunrise, which they called Apollo; the other visible only at sunset, which they called Hermes. The English name for the planet comes from the Romans, who named it after the Roman god Mercury, which they equated with the Greek Hermes (Ἑρμῆς). The astronomical symbol for Mercury is a stylized version of Hermes' caduceus.
Text from Wikipedia

While setting this series this link proved useful/interesting. Check the mapping feature :)

Other caches in this series:
GSS01: Mercury - Geolympix Solar System - HERE!
GSS02: Venus - Geolympix Solar System
GSS03: Earth - Geolympix Solar System
GSS04: Mars - Geolympix Solar System
GSS05: Ceres - Geolympix Solar System - Archived!
GSS06: Jupiter - Geolympix Solar System
GSS07: Saturn - Geolympix Solar System
GSS08: Uranus - Geolympix Solar System
GSS09: Neptune - Geolympix Solar System
GSS10: Pluto - Geolympix Solar System
GSS11: Eris - Geolympix Solar System
GSS12: Remote - Geolympix Solar System

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

[Not in the churchyard] Tebhaq yriry.
Ovt gerr.
Nobir guerr fznyyre gerrf.
Naq n pbapergr oybpx.

Decryption Key

A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M
-------------------------
N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z

(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



 

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Last Updated: on 11/15/2017 3:55:04 PM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (11:55 PM GMT)
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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