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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Everything under the Sun
Map, Minor Planet Center in Cambridge
The blue lines show the orbits of the planets

Astronomers have produced a snapshot of the Solar System - a map showing where everything is right now.

The image plots all the known inner Solar System objects on 26 July 2002.

Planets, comets and asteroids are all recorded in this unique plot, obtained by merging information from several active databases that are updated almost daily.

The light blue lines indicate the orbits of the planets. The green dots indicate asteroids. The red dots are asteroids that come within 1.3 Earth-Sun distances of the Sun, thus posing an increased (although small) risk of collision with the Earth.

Click here to see the full images.

Comets appear as dark blue squares, while the dark blue points are so-called Jupiter Trojan asteroids - objects that orbit just ahead of, or just behind, Jupiter.

As can be seen, most of the asteroids of the inner Solar System orbit between Mars and Jupiter in the main asteroid belt. About 40,000 asteroids have been catalogued to date.

One researcher involved with the project at the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass, US, said that it looked as though our Solar System was a crowded and busy place.

In reality, all these objects are spread across a billion miles of space and mostly orbiting the Sun in the same direction.

Map, Minor Planet Center in Cambridge
The plot goes out to the orbit of Jupiter
See also:

24 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
24 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
24 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
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