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Table of Contents Enchanted Learning
All About Astronomy
Site Index
Our Solar System Stars Glossary Printables, Worksheets, and Activities
The Sun The Planets The Moon Asteroids Kuiper Belt Comets Meteors Astronomers

Our Solar System
All About the Solar System Origins The Ecliptic Where is our Solar System? Exploring the Solar System Extremes Learning Activities

The Ecliptic of Our Solar System

Our solar system is almost flat, forming a plane. This plane is called the ecliptic of our solar system. The ecliptic is the plane of Earth's (and most of the other planets) orbit about the Sun. In the course of a year, the sun appears to trace a path in the sky along the ecliptic. The constellations of the Zodiac lie along the ecliptic.

Inclination is the angle between the plane of an orbit and the plane of the ecliptic. Orbital inclination is abbreviated as i.

The ecliptic is inclined at a 7° angle from the plane of the Sun's equator. The Earth's axis is tilted at a 23.5° angle from the ecliptic (which causes the seasons). The planet Pluto's orbit deviates more than any other planets from the plane of the ecliptic, with an inclination of 17° from the ecliptic.



Ecliptic Plane Links
A beautiful picture of the moon, the Sun's corona, Saturn, Mars, and Mercury lined up in the plane of the ecliptic, from the "Astronomy Picture of the Day" Site.



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