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The mankind had to work some centuries to infer the real configuration of solar system, starting from greeks, Ptolemeus, until Copernicus, Galilei, Kepler, Newton etc. Is there any planet where we could better/faster determine the configuration?

(For example, having a moon is an advantage. Maybe having two moons(or none) or having a thinner atmosphere or being closer/farther to the sun may helped.)

The area of the question starts from inferring the form of the planet(round) until the discovery and orbits of all eight planets.

PS: The question ignores the fact that life is not possible on another planet. It is from pure astronomical viewpoint. On Neptune you have a different sky, so other questions/answers.

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I will argue Mars.

  • A smaller diameter makes it easier to determine the round shape of the planet, and determine the diameter more exactly.
  • A thinner atmosphere and almost no clouds are better conditions for sky observation.
  • The small orbital radius of the Mars moons makes it easy to figure out the distance to them. (For example, Phobos is only in the sky about a third of the time seen from equator). Also, the fact that there are two of them makes two data points to discover Kepler's third law.
  • Closer vicinity of the asteroid belt calls for an earlier discovery of objects with an irregular orbit.
  • The Moon is a much closer example of something orbiting another object than Galileo’s discovery of the Jovian moons. "Mars is the centre of the universe" disproved.
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  • $\begingroup$ Furthermore, the fact that Phobos is in the sky less than half of time makes it easier to guess that Mars is not flat, which is a prerequisite to infer solar system configuration. $\endgroup$ – Pere Sep 12 at 23:29
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I think Mercury has some of the points that Mars has. Plus:
- a highly eccentric orbit, making it more obvious that planets have ellptical orbits,
- no moon, which is great to avoid falling into the pitfall of thinking about being at the center of the universe,
- a very long solar day (about 6 earth months or two mercurian years), leaving plenty of time to study planetary motions

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  • $\begingroup$ Mercury has (practically) no atmosphere, and one could stare at black sky wherever the Sun is: below the horizon or above. $\endgroup$ – Incnis Mrsi Sep 10 '16 at 14:21
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Venus, I propose, because it (almost) doesn't rotate. The winning (aristotelian) argument for geocentrism before Galileo was the idea that everybody's' hats would fly off by the (ethereal) air drag if the Earth rotated any faster than a horse in gallop (let alone at Earth's crazy 465 m/s compared to Venus' 1.8 m/s). Long nights too, as previously said. And with Mercury still as an inner planet, the faces of which to give further Galilean clues.

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I would propose Enceladus.

  • Enceladus has diameter smaller than even Mercury.
  • From the nearside of a tidally-locked moon, the parent planet, Saturn, would appear nearly stationary. Being stationary Saturn might be viewed as the “center of the universe” instead.
  • Being on a moon as oppose to the parent planet, with other moons orbiting along with your own, it would seem more apparent that the other celestial bodies did not orbit around your planet/moon.
  • If their were theories proposed that the Saturn was the center of the universe they may disproved by watching the other planets go around the Sun. Which would be easier to notice as a telescope wouldn't be required. Quite unlike the Galilean moons which require a telescope to see.
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  • $\begingroup$ Though I asked for a planet, it is a nice answer. $\endgroup$ – Florin Ghita Apr 6 '16 at 10:45
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps Pluto then? It has many moons, and its largest moon, Charon, is large enough that the Pluto-Charon barycenter is above Pluto's surface. So it might be easier to notice that Pluto is not the center of the universe. $\endgroup$ – Laharon Apr 7 '16 at 21:29

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