A Solar System Family Portrait

Earlier I posted a picture of the Earth taken by Voyager1 looking back toward home. That image is the most popular picture that I’ve posted here on Hogewash! The picture above was assembled from images taken by the MESSENGER spacecraft now surveying Mercury while it was the craft was in orbit around the Sun en route to Mercury.

If you looked out from the center of the Solar System, this is the sort of view you would see. The planets all appear as points of light, with the closest and largest planets appearing the brightest. They all orbit in the same direction and are more or less confined to the same great circle around the sky—the ecliptic plane. You will have to click on the image to embiggen it. As you zoom in and scroll around the larger image, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all visible. The positions of Uranus and Neptune are labeled, but they are too faint to make out. Pluto, which has recently been demoted to dwarf planet status, is much too faint to see. Earth’s Moon is visible, however. So are the Galilean moons of Jupiter.

Image Credit: NASA

Leave a Reply