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. Uranus' rotation is tricky. It is tilted so that its poles are pointed almost directly at the sun. Scientist argue about whether or not its orbit is truly retrograde.
Submitted by Kyle (Canada)
(June 17, 1999)
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