Movie of the orbits of the inner planets

A movie of the solar system orbits for the last several million years was created by Jonathan Levine, a graduate student in physics at UC Berkeley who is working with Rich Muller. The movie shows the orbits of the inner planets for the last three million years. The graphics were based on the calculations of T.R. Quinn, S. Tremaine, & M.A. Duncan (A three million year integration of the EarthÕs orbit, Astronomical Journal 101, 2287Š2305, 1991). The scale is NOT exaggerated; the variations in the planet orbits are to scale. However, since the viewing angle is not perpendicular to the plane, it is easy to confuse the effects of precession, inclination, and eccentricity.

The movie shows the inner planets only.

Mercury is black
Venus is gray (sorry -- it doesn't show up too well)
Earth blue
Mars red

To view the movie: Warning: the file is 12 Mbytes in size. Even at 56 kbits/sec it would take a half hour to download. Don't even try to view it unless you have at least DSL or a cable modem. If you have such a fast connection, then click here to watch the movie.

Even if you are an expert, you may be surprised at what you see!