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Learn about planets outside our solar system through Exoplanets and Alien Solar Systems by Tahir Yaqoob, Ph.D., a book in our online store book collection.

Do the planets in the solar system crash? Is it true that Pluto andNeptune have intersecting orbits and that at one point Neptune is thefarthest planet from the sun?

All the planets in the solar system have individual orbits. The orbits don't intersect so none of the planets can crash. Pluto and Neptune are in a unique situation. They look like they might crash, but they really won't.

Right now, Pluto is the eighth planet from the Sun although it is usually the ninth. It moved closer to the Sun than Neptune in 1979 and will stay there until 1999. It looks like Pluto crossed Neptune's orbit, but it didn't.

Pluto's orbit around the sun is very elliptical, or egg-shaped. Neptune's orbit is more circular. Also, Pluto's orbit is tilted 17 degrees above Neptune's orbit. Because of the tilt, the narrow part of Pluto's orbit dips closer to the sun than Neptune.


Submitted by Ken (Ontario, Canada)
Submitted by Ryan (Nova Scotia, Canada)
(September 22, 1997)



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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA