You sure about that Tumblr?
It’s Plane To See …
Yes! All the planets are, more or less, on the same plane. This means that their orbits all follow the same flat, circular path. This is illustrated by the following animation:
The planets are not perfectly lined up on the same orbit, though. If we define Earth’s orbit to be “the perfectly perfect ecliptic”, then the other planets orbit within a few degrees of that. Why?
When the solar system formed, there was a massive rotating cloud of debris and dust spinning around the young star we now orbit. We call it the Protoplanetary Disk, which would make a great name for a spaceship. When something spins while being tethered in place by gravity, its mass wants to fly outward into a pizza-like shape, like frosting flying from errantly-aimed eggbeaters. The Earth even bulges a bit around the equator because of this “force”. This means that before the planets ever became planets, their planetary “stuff” was already on the same plane. Naturally, they thought this was just fine, and as they matured into the orbs we know and love, they stayed there.
This can be easily observed in the night sky. When multiple planets are visible, you can draw the line of the ecliptic through them! It’s also why we seem to have so many nights when planets are “near” each other in the sky, but never quite on top of each other (called “conjunction”, check it out in this video)
By now, many of you are fidgeting uncomfortably, barely able to contain the following comment: “Bah! You are wrong, science man! Pluto doesn’t orbit on the ecliptic! It’s wonky as hell!”
Well, the question was “Are all the planets in the solar system on the same plane?” And the answer to that is most definitely yes. You’re just going to have to get over the fact that Pluto is not a planet anymore. Its tilted orbit is one of the main reasons why.
The first step to healing is acceptance. The second step is realizing that this wacky ball of ice is so off-kilter that it’s lucky it didn’t fly right off into interstellar space:
(images via Wikipedia)
One of my favorite Stephen Colbert moments.
Just because you don’t think you’re allowed to do something doesn’t make that something wrong.
What freedom of religion isn’t.
What do you mean you didn’t get the meatball sub???