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by Irene Pease on
The planets orbit the sun in a fairly flat plane. How does this solar system move around the Milky Way Galaxy?
[Night sky with stars and Milky Way, some planets moving from right to left, some planets moving faster than others.]
From Earth, we see the Sun, Moon, and planets “wander” against a backdrop of stars…
[Labels show Mercury passing Saturn, Mars passing Jupiter. Mercury moves out of view.]
…tracing the plane of the solar system.
[Lines show the planets’ trails, close together in a horizontal strip across the field of view. In the background, a hazy band of the Milky Way is nearly vertical.]
How does the plane of the solar system relate to the orientation of the Milky Way Galaxy?
[Move away from Earth’s view, out of the plane of the solar system, rotating until solar system appears face-on, with planets’ orbits encircling the Sun. Gird aligned with orbit-trails appears, with circles extending out in the same plane as the solar system.]
We can compare them by extending the plane of the solar system…
[Grid continues marking the plane of solar system, extending as view zooms so that solar system shrinks in the distance, sun dims. Pass nearby stars, then distant stars.]
…thousands of light years…
[View is rotating to a more edge-on view of solar system’s extended grid. Glow of galaxy, then the structure of galaxy appears. Continue moving out beyond nearby stars to outside the plan of the galaxy.]
…outside the spiral arms of the galaxy.
[Once outside the galaxy, view rotates to edge-on galaxy, with solar-system’s grid slicing through it at a high angle, from upper right to lower left. Continues rotating to view solar system circles face-on. Yellow line appears, circling the Milk Way in the plane]
Over the next billion years, the Sun, with planets in tow, will circle the galaxy about four times.
[Solar system grid fades out. Zoom in towards beginning of line, Sun’s current position.]
If we viewed the Sun’s path among our night sky constellations, which direction would it be headed?
[Fade to view of stars as seen from Earth, facing constellations labeled: Cepheus the King, Cygnus the Swan, Lacerta, the Lizard.]
Our current heading points toward three northern constellations.
[Lines connect stars to outline the the three constellations. Images of the swan, king, and lizard fade, leaving only the lines. The sun’s path for the next billion years appears, stretching away between constellations’ lines. As view zooms away from solar system, lines stretch back towards Earth’s position in space.]
Among the stars, up, down, east, and west become meaningless.
[Zoom out among stars, panning around 360 degrees. The constellation lines deform as distance from solar system increases, pointing back towards the Sun’s position.]
As our spinning planet revolves around the Sun,
[As panning ends, zoom back in to constellations in night sky.]
we’re also speeding through the galaxy at 230 kilometers per second.
Hang on tight…
[Fade to black, credits begin to roll. Music fades.]