Weighing in. . . .
Edward J Cunningham has it much closer than gr8guy and scr4. The thing to remember about small objects (like Jupiter) orbiting large objects (like Sol) is that the orbital period is 99.99999+% determined by the mass of the large object and the distance of the small object from it. If Jupiter were to orbit at Earth’s distance, it would take about 365.24+ days to go around the sun, much like Earth. It would go oh-so-slightly faster, but not a whole bunch; anyone with the figures care to back me up here?
So anyway, what the period of Jupiter’s orbit gives one is a pretty good idea of Sol’s mass. In order to figure out what Jupiter’s mass is, we have to find some smaller-still objects orbiting Jupiter (i.e., the Galilean satellites), and an accurate determination of how far away from Jupiter they are. In this manner, the masses of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (and later Uranus and Neptune) were all quite accurately known early on in the history of telescopic astronomy.
What about our own fair planet? We have a satellite, right? Yes, but…you see, Luna isn’t that small an object (it turns out it has about 1/81 the mass of Terra), and when you have two objects that are comparable in mass, your mass estimates become somewhat less accurate. We had a fairly good idea of Terra’s mass, but only after 1957 when we* had launched some artificial satellites did we have a really firm grasp on the figure. (And again, Luna’s mass was pinned down much more accurately after we* sent some stuff out to its vicinity** in 1959.)
Venus and Mercury were in similar situations until probes were sent out to them. Pluto is still tricky, because we haven’t sent a probe to it, but luckily for us it happens to have a moon (Charon), and so we have quite a good idea now as to the total mass of the Pluto-Charon system; as to the components thereof, we’re still basically guessing (based on their relative brightnesses, I believe).
As for Odin vs. Mercury (the Enthralla in Valhalla!), the real Roman equivalent to Odin was Jupiter. They were both the rulers of the gods, and they were both mean sons-of-goddesses. Jupiter and Thor only really match up in the lightning-bolt category; find some guy with the mother of all hammers, and match him up with Thor. The Norse and Roman mythoses didn’t match up all that well. The closest thing I can think of to Mercury is Huginn and Muninn, Odin’s raven-companions who bring him the news of the world (like having CNN perched on your shoulder).
And if I’m wrong, please correct me; I have a son named Odin (it’s a family name, I have some Norse blood).
- By ‘we’ I mean the human race. It so happened that both these items were launched by the Soviets.
** Nothing human-made actually orbited Luna until 1966, believe it or not. Until then, it was all fly-bys. Three years later, we were sending people there.