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Old June 5th, 2005, 01:42 PM
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Question

How frequently would all the planets of a system be in a straight line?

(I know the answer will be different for each solar system.)

I am looking for general occurence like once in every 10,000 years or such.

I.e. from the star to the farest out planet draw a straight line between all the planets

Scenario 2
From the farest out planet draw a straight line through all the planets and the star but they are not neccesarily all on the same side of the star.

Scenario 3 (the rarest of them all)
1 planet (the habitial one) is on one side of the star and all the other planets are on the other and you can draw a straight line through all the planets and stars.

Scenario 4 (??)
a)All the planets are on the same side of the star.
b)all the planets are on the same side of the star and within 90 degrees of each other
c)all the planets are on the same side of the star and within 45 degress of each other

Thanks for any help with this

Dave
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Old June 5th, 2005, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaveChase:
How frequently would all the planets of a system be in a straight line?
Never. Orbits all have some inclination eccentricity and so will never be in a "straight line". Never. Now if you mean in the same plane perpendicular to that of the mean orbital plane of the system, then it's only rarely and dependant on the number of bodies.

Quote:
Originally posted by DaveChase:
(I know the answer will be different for each solar system.)
Quite, and the odds get longer the more planets you have in the system.

Quote:
Originally posted by DaveChase:
I am looking for general occurence like once in every 10,000 years or such.
Scenario 1 - From the star to the farest out planet draw a straight line between all the planets.

For our solar system, for all the planets to be in the same alignment as seen from the sun is on the order of once every 180 trillion years. That's pretty close to NEVER! [img]smile.gif[/img]

Scenario 2 - From the farthest out planet draw a straight line through all the planets and the star but they are not neccesarily all on the same side of the star.

The number I found for this, again for our solar system, is about once every 340 million years but that calculation was for all the superior planets on one side of the sun and all the inferior ones on the other side which probably better fits your scenario 3.

Scenario 3 - 1 planet (the habitial one) is on one side of the star and all the other planets are on the other and you can draw a straight line through all the planets and stars.

Too much math [img]smile.gif[/img] See answer to Scenario 1 above. i.e. NEVER!

Scenario 4a - All the planets are on the same side of the star.

That's your scenario 1 isn't it?

Scenario 4b - All the planets are on the same side of the star and within 90 degrees of each other.

Ah, within 90 degrees is rare but not that bad, on the order of once every 200 years.

Scenario 4c - All the planets are on the same side of the star and within 45 degress of each other.

Again probably not all that rare, like 4b above but not so often. No numbers but I'd guess once every few millenia.

Quote:
Originally posted by DaveChase:
Thanks for any help with this

Dave
You're welcome, but you do know that there is no physical significance to planetary alignments, right? I mean zero, none, nada, zilch.
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Old June 5th, 2005, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by far-trader:

Scenario 4a - All the planets are on the same side of the star.

That's your scenario 1 isn't it?
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />

Nope. all the planets on the same side (within 180 degrees of each other?
[img]smile.gif[/img]


Quote:
Originally posted by DaveChase:
Thanks for any help with this

Dave
You're welcome, but you do know that there is no physical significance to planetary alignments, right? I mean zero, none, nada, zilch. [/QB]</font>
thanks for the information. When you said figured/math did you have any reference source/site? thanks

Dave
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Old June 5th, 2005, 04:00 PM
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[quote]Originally posted by DaveChase:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by far-trader:

Scenario 4a - All the planets are on the same side of the star.

That's your scenario 1 isn't it?
Quote:

Nope. all the planets on the same side (within 180 degrees of each other?
[img]smile.gif[/img]
D'oh! Of course [img]smile.gif[/img] That should happen pretty often I'd think.


Quote:
Originally posted by DaveChase:
thanks for the information. When you said figured/math did you have any reference source/site? thanks

Dave
Originally I think Phil's Bad Astronomy (fun site click this link )

But my notes weren't handy so I googled and came up with this site that borrows from Phil's and is specific to this question of Planetary Alignments.

HTH. You're welcome, have fun [img]smile.gif[/img]
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Old June 5th, 2005, 06:09 PM
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Hmm, just thought I should clarify those NEVERs above [img]smile.gif[/img]

By that I mean it's unlikely to ever happen in reality but being a game, and given the number of solar systems in charted space, and a PC's nack for being in the right place at the wrong time (or the other way around), well by all means the referee can simply make it so. The games the thing! I'd just make it a once in a campaign thing [img]smile.gif[/img]
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Old June 5th, 2005, 11:21 PM
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Hey Dave and Everyone,

Interesting topic. There was a Japanese comic I read once that had a larger planet align in front of a smaller one creating a gravitic lens from the parent star - effectively making the larger planet a giant magnifying glass. And anyone who grew up with a magnifying glass knows what it can do to paper, ants, etc... BOOM! goes the smaller planet. By the way, the big internet rumor was that all the planets were supposedly going to align on 5/5/05, and the world was supposed to end. But like almost all other internet rumors, this turned out to be false. Or did the world end and I missed it?

Dameon
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Old June 5th, 2005, 11:26 PM
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Quote:
There was a Japanese comic I read once that had a larger planet align in front of a smaller one creating a gravitic lens from the parent star - effectively making the larger planet a giant magnifying glass
Ah, the wonder that is 2001 Nights [img]smile.gif[/img] . Awesome, awesome series that was.

I don't think that would work in practise though, IIRC the focal point for stars is like, about a lightyear away from them or something. And I don't think it'd focus that strongly anyway. But it was a cool story.

Aligning planets don't do anything though. They have no noticeable effect at all on eachother when aligned (at least, none more than they usually have which is a tiny gravitational tug).
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Old June 6th, 2005, 10:04 AM
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Well, they will make it hard to see all the planets, if they really are in a line with you.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 10:28 AM
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Yeah, that was it Mal - 2001 Nights. I only got to read two of the graphic novels. Whoever did the stories for those did a great job.

Something I was thinking about was Scenario 3. Now let's say Earth is that one planet on the other side of the sun. So, now you have the gravitation pull from not only the Sun, but also from 8 other planets pulling on Earth from exactly the same direction. Would tidal forces be affected? I mean, the reason we have waves in the ocean is because of gravity from the moon, right? Or is the gravity from those 8 planets so insignificant in comparison to the Sun that they would be drowned out? Are any of those planets having an affect on us right now?

Dameon
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Old June 6th, 2005, 12:13 PM
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The tidal effects of the moon tend to drown out everything else, yes. Now, if you could get thos planets to stay exactly opposite us, all in a line, you might change our orbit, as the forces would no longer be balancing each other....
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