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Old 03-29-2009, 05:36 PM   #1493
Avalon Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: America
Posts: 427
Default Pluto's orbit

I was glad to hear your interview and was very interested in something you said. You mentioned, that “when you type in Dec. 24, 2012 on the NASA simulator, they have depicted something coming close to Pluto, larger than Jupiter.” And you said it again, that “In the official NASA simulator when you type Dec 24, 2012, the planet Pluto is pushed to the right of it’s normal orbit.

I always love seeing things in a visual form (picture), and know you do too, so I got excited that I might be able to see exactly what you were telling us. I went and found the NASA simulator, it is here at
It was really fun to play around with this simulator, and I thought for sure I’d be able to find what you were telling us. The amazing thing is that we have those voyager spacecrafts out there in space so we have some really good measurements and photography on which the simulator is based on. I just love this science stuff, always have since elementary school.

But, Astralwalker, I just couldn’t find the “depicted something coming close to Pluto”, and that “the planet Pluto is pushed to the right of it’s normal orbit.” It takes 247 earth years for Pluto to make one orbit around the Sun. Which way is "to the right"? Up? Down? Further in towards another planet? Further out towards another planet?

I figure you have studied this simulator much longer than I have, and perhaps you could simply give us the correct coordinates to put into the NASA Solar System Simulator to verify your conclusions. I would really appreciate it very, very much.

And here is a representation of what I found. This represents the orbits of Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus as seen from a position of the Voyager 2 position in space. I tried other positions as well, but I thought this one would help others get excited as to what can be seen through the NASA Simulator. It is so fun!
Dec. 24, 2008
Dec. 24, 2012
Dec. 24, 2020 (In 12 Earth years, Pluto has moved all of about 5% of one Pluto orbit)

Pluto is an interesting Solar System “object”. Wikipedia says “From its discovery in 1930 until 2006, Pluto was considered the Solar System's ninth planet. In the early 21st century, however, many objects similar to Pluto were discovered in the outer solar system, notably the scattered disc object Eris, which is 27% more massive than Pluto.[14] On August 24, 2006, the IAU defined the term “planet” for the first time. This definition excluded Pluto as a planet, and added it as member of the new category of "dwarf planet" along with Eris and Ceres. After the reclassification, Pluto was added to the list of minor planets and given the number 134340. A number of scientists continue to hold that Pluto should be classified as a planet.”

Pluto has always had an unusual orbit. “It is inclined more than 17 from the ecliptic (the plane in which the orbits of the planets lie). The orbit is also more eccentric (far from circular) than any other planetary orbit. At times, Pluto is closer to the Sun than the orbit of Neptune. Every 228 years, Pluto's orbit brings it closer to the Sun than Neptune for a period of 20 years. From 1979 to March 1999, Neptune was the farthest planet from the Sun.” source:

Last edited by KathyT; 03-29-2009 at 09:53 PM.
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