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Solar System Planet Orbits and Paths

December 9th 2008

These images are from our Solarnet II program which uses accurate astro.com swetest calculations to calculate the distance
of planets as they orbit the Sun and show the Solar System planet orbital paths.

Please note that images should be thought of as looking down on the solar system and that straight down images are correct in scale however those stated as "angled" will not be due the difficulty of doing mathematical 3D calculations. Also note that here, Pluto is considered to be a Planet.

The order of the Planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto
Some images will show the Moon orbiting the Earth

Uranus is pronounced or rhymes with "You're a nose".

Earth Moon Lace Work
(Moons Orbit is accented)
Full Orbit of Jupiter and Saturn
Full Orbit of Outer Planets
Mercury Above Solar Plane (accented)
Mercury Below Solar Plane (accented)
Mercury Retrograde
Note that Retrograde means that from the Earths point of view the planet seems to be falling
back each night that we watch it.
Imagine that you can see Mercury rotating (anti-clockwise) the Sun faster than the Earth (planet with rays coming out).
In this manner you can imagine Mercury in retrograde as opposed to a planet such as mars slowing moving anti-clockwise around the Sun, holding its position relitive to the rays (longitude lines of the celestial sphere) of the Earth as the Earth rotates the Sun, however, mars slowly moving through the one sector to the next.
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars Slightly Angled and Mercury Accented
Moon Round Twice (accented)
Outer Planets Slightly Angled with Pluto Dipping Below the Orbit of Neptune (me thinks)
Most Outer Planet (proper scale)
Yes Pluto does come inside the Orbit of Neptune
Pluto Orbit Below Plane Of Solar System (angled)
Slightly Angled Jupiter and Saturn
Spring Equinox
Note that the Sun is on the First Point of Aries
Note that the Earth Rays are Celestial Sphere Longitude lines
See our Spider-Web Illustration on our "Basics of the Solar System Page Here for more information about these Rays
View From Earth
As the Earth Rotates the Sun, the Earth Rays (Celestial Sphere Longitude lines) follow the Earth and the Planets slowly move
anti-clockwise through the Earth Ray Sectors (clockwise if moving Retrograde)
Another View From Earth
Note that the planets slowly crawl through the picture
but that the Earth's Orbit around the Sun makes the Planets seem to to go three steps forward, then 1 step back.
Winter Solstace
If you drew lines connecting each end of the Ray, you could imagine walking around the Earth westward (looking from the bottom of the Earth up) and this
is the same path the Sun seems to travels (Hour Angle since the Earth is rotating 15 degrees per hour) and the way we measure degrees around
the Celestial Sphere. In this picture, the Sun is at
270 degrees or Hour Angle 6:00 AM where noon would be the First Point of Aries.
Astronomers would say the the Sun is 90 Degrees RA (right ascension - eastward) from the First Point of Aries
These pictures are the property of hyteware.

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