posted on Apr, 26 2013 @ 11:47 AM
Originally posted by w810i
I've always wondered this. I remember back in school when we looked at a model of the solar system all the planets were laid out in nice circles
emanating out from the central point being the sun. Now we do really know the actual locations of the various planets in relation to the earth. IE-
here is the earth but say jupiter for instance is located above the earth or say below the earths location going in a different orbital direction then
Yes, we can SEE the planets, accurately plot their positions, analyze their motions and calculate future movements. Astronomers have been quite good
at this for hundreds of years (thousands, in some cases). Read-up on Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton.
All of the major planets (8 of them, as recognized by the International Astronautical Union) orbit within a few degrees of the same plane, called the
, so the layout of the model you saw was basically accurate (except for the relative sizes of
the Sun & planets to each other and to the distances between them, which had too be simplified to fit in a classroom model).
Smaller objects (dwarf planets (like Pluto, according to the IAU), asteroids, comets, etc.) often orbit at a higher angle to the ecliptic.
Hope this helps!