How to find astronomy’s handiest reference point – the ecliptic

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What you need

Clear night skies

A telescope (optional)

Any good astronomy app (optional)

OVER the course of a year, the sun traces a path in the sky. This invisible line, called the ecliptic, isn’t created by the sun moving, but instead by Earth travelling around the sun.

The solar system’s planets all orbit in a similar plane to Earth as it circles the sun – the biggest difference is Mercury, which is out by about 7 degrees. This means they can all be seen along the ecliptic in the night sky. The ecliptic is also where the zodiacal constellations are found and where …

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