This image compares the retrograde rotation of Venus to the direct rotation of Earth.
Click on image for full size
Windows original, courtesy of Nate Proulx
What are the retrograde motions of planets in the sky?
It depends on which type of motion you are asking about. If you take a birds-eye view from the top of the solar system all the planets orbit around the Sun in a counter-clockwise (or direct) direction. Most planets also rotate counter-clockwise, so that the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west. A few rotate in the opposite direction, so that the Sun rises in the west. This is known as retrograde motion.
The planets with retrograde rotations are Venus, Uranus, and Pluto. Venus' orbit is clearly retrograde. Scientists debate whether Uranus' orbit is truly retrograde. Uranus is tilted on its axis at nearly a right angle (so that its poles and not its equator point towards the Sun). Depending on what pole is classified as its north pole Uranus's rotation could be either direct or retrograde.
Submitted by Kyle (age 13, Canada)
(June 17, 1999)
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games
section of our online store
includes a climate change card game
and the Traveling Nitrogen game
You might also be interested in:
It depends on which type of motion you are asking about. If you take a birds-eye view from the top of the solar system all the planets orbit around the Sun in a counter-clockwise (or direct) direction....more
Almost everyone has a question or two about living in space. What do astronauts do in space? How do they do everyday things like eat, sleep and go to the bathroom? It's important to note that astronauts...more
There is a really neat internet program called Solar System Live that shows the position of all of the planets and the Sun for any given day. If you go to that page, you'll see an image similar to the...more
The picture of the American Flag (the one put there by the Apollo astronauts) is waving (or straight out) in the wind. How could that be possible if there is no atmosphere on the Moon? Was it some sort...more
I was wondering if there is a new planet? Are there planets (a tenth planet?) after Pluto belonging to our solar system? What are the names of the new planets discovered in the solar system? Are there...more
If that is so, the energy released during the Big Bang must have created many such black holes. Therefore most of the Energy of the Big bang must have disappeared in that form. Then how did the Universe...more