Orbits1 - very nearly circular. The orbits of the planets...

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Orbits The solar system consists of the Sun ; the eight official planets, at least three "dwarf planets", more than 130 satellites of the planets, a large number of small bodies (the comets and asteroids), and the interplanetary medium. (There are probably also many more planetary satellites that have not yet been discovered.) The inner solar system contains the Sun , Mercury , Venus , Earth and Mars : The main asteroid belt (not shown) lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The planets of the outer solar system are Jupiter , Saturn , Uranus , and Neptune ( Pluto is now classified as a dwarf planet):
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The first thing to notice is that the solar system is mostly empty space. The planets are very small compared to the space between them. Even the dots on the diagrams above are too big to be in proper scale with respect to the sizes of the orbits. The orbits of the planets are ellipses with the Sun at one focus, though all except Mercury are
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Unformatted text preview: very nearly circular. The orbits of the planets are all more or less in the same plane (called the ecliptic and defined by the plane of the Earth's orbit). The ecliptic is inclined only 7 degrees from the plane of the Sun's equator. The above diagrams show the relative sizes of the orbits of the eight planets (plus Pluto) from a perspective somewhat above the ecliptic (hence their non-circular appearance). They all orbit in the same direction (counter-clockwise looking down from above the Sun's north pole); all but Venus, Uranus and Pluto also rotate in that same sense. (The above diagrams show correct positions for October 1996 as generated by the excellent planetarium program Starry Night ; there are also many other similar programs available, some free. You can also use Emerald Chronometer on your iPhone or Emerald Observatory on your iPad to find the current positions.)...
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This note was uploaded on 12/15/2011 for the course AST AST1002 taught by Professor Emilyhoward during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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Orbits1 - very nearly circular. The orbits of the planets...

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