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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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