Q:

What is the shape of Earth's orbit?

A:

Quick Answer

The shape of Earth's orbit is an ellipse, which resembles a stretched circle. Earth's orbit lies on the plane of the ecliptic, an imaginary plane in which the sun and the planets move. Earth revolves around the sun in a period of 365 days.

Know More

Full Answer

Earth orbits the sun partly because of its own motion and partly because of the sun's gravity. The formation of the solar system was so forceful it shot Earth out on a path that it would still be traveling on if not for the gravity of the sun. The sun's gravity acts like a giant string and keeps Earth on its elliptical orbit.

Earth does not always orbit the sun at the same distance. Perihelion is the spot where Earth is closest to the sun; aphelion is the place where Earth is farthest from the sun. At aphelion, Earth is approximately 156 million kilometers away; at perihelion, Earth is about 146 million kilometers away from the sun.

Learn more about Planets

Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why is Pluto not a planet?

    A:

    In 2006, the International Astronomical Union changed Pluto's classification from a planet to a dwarf planet because the planet has not cleared its orbit of other objects. When a planet clears its orbit, all other objects on the orbital path are either drawn into the planet's gravitational pull or flung away from it and out of the orbit.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Which planet is closest to Jupiter?

    A:

    No one planet is always closest to Jupiter, as the range between Jupiter and the other planets varies depending on its position in orbit. The closest approach Jupiter is capable of making to another planet is with Mars, at a minimum separation of 551 million kilometers.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How many moons does Eris have?

    A:

    Eris, the dwarf planet whose orbit is beyond Neptune's orbit, has one small moon named Dysnomia. The dwarf planet was first spotted in 2003 and confirmed in 2005.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What was Ptolemy's theory of the solar system?

    A:

    Ptolemy’s theory of the solar system placed the Earth at the center with each planet on an orbit around it and the stars on a celestial sphere. Ptolemy believed that astronomical elements existed in circular, rotating motions.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore