Are You Sure about:

This page under development

Your First Cell


Doppler Shift


Solar System

The video below is the solar system the way we were all taught to invision it. The Earth and the other planets serenely moving around the Sun. Notice that from this perspective all the planets circle counter-clockwise around the Sun. Also notice that the Earth, and most other planets, also spin counter clockwise on their axis. This is a well known fact.

This view is useful because it allows us to make drawings of the solar system and represent it to each other unambiguously. It's always drawn as if looking down on it so that the planet movement is counter-clockwise. It is an agreed on view. That's a good thing. We couldn't function at all without these kinds of agreements.

BTW - The best visualization of the solar system is here: Solar System Visualizer. That alone should change many of your perceived notions.

This is not the only possible view of course. We could just have easily decided to view it from below so that all planets revolved clockwise. How and why counterclockwise was chosen I have no idea but its an agreed on view and it works.

See anything wrong with this picture? Of course not its what we have become accustomed to. We are looking down on the Earth as it spins Day-to-Night, Night-to-Day and also as it spins around the Sun. You have to imagine that we are looking down on the North Pole of the Earth.

The next view is of the Earth from the side with the North Pole at the top. See anything wrong with this view? Nope - it's also what we have become accustomed to seeing.

Like the view of the solar system, this view of the Earth is also agreed on. It makes the Earth turn counterclockwise when viewed above and so it matches the view of the solar system. Which view came first? I have no idea but probably the agreement was made about the Earth first and then transferred to the solar system. My guess as to why the North pole is up and not the South pole is probably because the early seafaring nations lived above the Equator so it was a natural view to adopt.

The thing to remember is that there is no UP or DOWN in space. These are agreed on viewpoints only.

The problem with an agreed on view is not that it is wrong - it's simply an agreement after all, but that it freezes your outlook so that it becomes difficult if not impossible to see it any other way. This came to me when I was thinking about how my antenna should be steered and the software I had to write for it. I realized that I have to change my view to make any progress.

The image below is my preferred view of the Earth and its rotation. Right now I'm looking out my East facing window so the North pole is to my left. Look close. Can you see North America as it rolls by? Now I can visualize the Sun rising and traversing to West in an arc that is set by the relative angle of the Earths North pole and its progression around the Sun. I can envision myself standing on North America moving from the daylight into the night

The obvious problem with this view, other than the fact that it is not the agreed on view, is that it is completely dependent on the viewer's orientation. It really only makes sense if the North pole is on your left.

Remember the point of this exercise is to show that your viewpoint is fixed by agreement and that it can, and should be open to change to fit the circumstances.

Now If you can accept that the North pole is on your left when your looking East then you MAY be able to accept the next image of the solar system. Everything has to change to accommodate your new view of the Earth.

Now suddenly instead of gliding serenely around the Sun the planets seem to be on some sort of mad loop-de-loop diving under and around the Sun in a dash through the year. Notice that the Earth is spinning still and its North pole is to the left.

There is nothing wrong with this view of the solar system except that it is not the agreed on view. Remember there is no Up or Down in space only relative motion.

And if you can accept that new view of the solar system and knowing that the entire solar system is also moving around the center of the Milky Way you MIGHT be able to accept this as well.

Please Note: This is a screen grab of the first two minutes from DJ Sadhu's YouTube video because his website ( no longer seems to work and I don't want this to be lost to URL rot.

You must admit this is a startling change from what our accepted view of the solar system is. An interesting thing this shows is that we Never come back to where we started. Our accepted view of the solar system around the Sun makes us assume that after a year we are back to where we began - we are not. During that year the entire solar system has progressed further around the center of the Milky Way. At 45,000 miles per hour, we are a very long way from our starting point.

There are a lot of things wrong with the video of course. Professional astronomers, like Phil Plait on his (Bad Astronomy website), point out that the scales are all wrong. Of course, they are. If they were correct you could never see the planets as they revolved around the Sun. Then there are the tails. Of course, the Sun and the planets do not have tails as they move. These are only necessary for the video to show the paths of the Sun and planets. Without them, against the black background they would simply look like dots moving back and forth across the screen. Phil also say's that it's not a vortex - of course, Phil we all understand that. It's called poetic license. He also goes on about the idea that the planets do not trail behind the sun as the video seems to suggest. I looked hard at the video and do not see that. What I actually see is a difficult animation of what may *look* like the planets trailing behind the Sun.

It's like complaining that Van Gohs 'Starry Night' can't be right because stars don't have tails.

The point that Phil also makes is the graphics are not only wrong but dramatically wrong. I think Phil is wrong. It's true that the video is not accurate and also true that it goes way too far trying to make the case that its a "Vortex". What Phil misses is that the video allows you to think about the planets, the sun, the solar system and our path around the Milky Way in a completely different way. This is a good thing and it's important that science and scientists can adapt themselves to different viewpoints. I think the world of Phil and his website, but in this case he overstates his point. I am afraid that Phil is looking at the intersection of art and science and cannot separate them.

I hope you have enjoyed this change in viewpoint and that you now may have a different opinion about what we all agree to be true.