Our Sun and a Few Rocks
Here we see the orbits, from the outside in, of Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, and Saturn. Since these planets are mere pinpoints of reflected sunlight, they would be completely invisible in the bright glare of the Sun, now only 200 terameters away -- a mere week at the speed of light. The stellar background remains unchanged from the last several images. The orbits of the planets are seen to be elliptical rather than nearly circular because we are approaching the Earth from directly above San Francisco, California, rather than from above the north pole of the ecliptic plane. Saturn orbits the Sun in a counterclockwise direction once every 29.5 Earth years, while little Pluto needs nearly 248 years to complete its more elliptical and tilted orbit. Since its discovery in 1930, Pluto has completed only one quarter of its solar orbit. For the past several years, Pluto's orbit had taken it within the orbit of Neptune. In 1999, Pluto became the outermost planet again.
Copyright © 2016 by Bruce Bryson