Planetary roataion

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bowman316

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Do planets rotate in a single plane, or in a sphere around the sun? In other words, do the planets rotate around the sun like electrons around the nucleus of an atom? Or in more of a disc like pattern?
Do we always pass the same space at certain times of the year, or does our orbit go up or down in the sphere around the sun? Could we see the "top" and "bottom" of the sun, as out orbit changes on this sphere?
 
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hewes

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All planets revolve around the Sun in the same flat plane. Pluto used to be the exception.
 
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quantumnumber

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They most certainly do revolve around the sun in the same flat plane, otherwise there might be problems with day and night, that would be all messed up. Also, the seasons would be messed up. I don't even know what kind of seasons there would be if the Earth rotated in a sphere around the sun???
 
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yevaud

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Well, yes, sort of. The planets aren't precisely aligned with the solar ecliptic - all have small inclinations to the ecliptic, and their orbits around the sun are modestly eccentric too.
 
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hewes

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quantumnumber":26mlnajj said:
They most certainly do revolve around the sun in the same flat plane, otherwise there might be problems with day and night, that would be all messed up.
Not necessarily. A planet's axis as it rotates determines day and night lighting.

quantumnumber":26mlnajj said:
Also, the seasons would be messed up. I don't even know what kind of seasons there would be if the Earth rotated in a sphere around the sun???
Again, the seasons are a consequence of the Earth's axis of rotation with respect to the Sun.
 
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quantumnumber

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hewes":32gvor4u said:
quantumnumber":32gvor4u said:
They most certainly do revolve around the sun in the same flat plane, otherwise there might be problems with day and night, that would be all messed up.
Not necessarily. A planet's axis as it rotates determines day and night lighting.

quantumnumber":32gvor4u said:
Also, the seasons would be messed up. I don't even know what kind of seasons there would be if the Earth rotated in a sphere around the sun???
Again, the seasons are a consequence of the Earth's axis of rotation with respect to the Sun.
Both your statements are true, which is why if the Earth were to revolve around the sun like electrons do a nucleus of an atom (which it doesn't), then day and night would be messed up because the Earth probably would have a messed up rotation too. Also, if the Earth revolved in this manner, the axis of rotation would be affected, causing the seasons to be severely affected.
 
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Saiph

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If the earth revolved about the sun in a spherical pattern...there would be many, many things wrong :)



But to answer the OP: The planets all orbit in more or less the same plane (disk) with small variations. Even Pluto, when it was officially a planet, is more in line with this disk than not (though it's a pretty strong slant).

Most of the planets also spin/rotate the same way the earth does, from west to east, and are aligned in basically the same way. But here things are a bit more scattered than with their orbits.

Mercury and Venus, compared to the other planets, barely rotate. Venus actually rotates backwards compared to the other planets. Because of this a very strong impact early in Venus's formation is suspected, enough to overcome it's 'normal' rotation. Then there's the really odd one: Uranus. It rotates at 90 degrees to the rest of the planets. It's north pole is pointed almost level with it's orbit about the sun (so that twice a year it's axis is nearly pointed AT the sun!) This is very odd...and also evidence for a really big interloper influencing it at some point in the distant past.
 
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bowman316

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It just seems odd to me that everything in the universe is 3 demensional, except for the rotation of the planets. This is basically 2 dementional.
 
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Saiph

Guest
not so odd, as flattened systems are everywhere you look. Everywhere rotation is present. Planets and stars bulge along the equator, slightly flattening them as they spin. Spiral galaxies are basically flat too, planetary ring systems. Here on earth we see it all over the place too. Pizzaria's with their hand tossed crusts use it to make their pizza's.

It's conservation of angular momentum. Given the chance spinning systems like to form into disks that are perpendicular to the net angular momentum of the system.
 
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neilsox

Guest
The plane of the orbit of Mercury is tilted about 9 degrees with respect to the plane of Earth's orbit. Other planet orbits are somewhat less tilted. The orbit of Earth's moon is tilted about 5 degrees, so the solar system is 3 dimensional, but not by much. None of the orbtal planes are exactly flat, but have lumps due to the changing position of Jupiter and the rest of the planets. About half of the larger galaxies including our own, are also flat, plus or minus a few degrees except for a very small percentage of the mass, which approximates a sphere. Neil
 
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