Copyright 2002

[ February 23rd 2002 ]

Q: My sister and I were watching the movie Tomb Raider and we were wondering if it is true or possible that all the planets can be perfectly aligned as shown in the movie ?

A: All the planets can align but not the way the movie showed it: perfectly in a row. In an early scene, we see the actress, Angelina Jolie, semi reclining while looking through a telescope at the developing alignment. She sees the planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto beginning to align. It's highly unlikely to happen that way-ever - because our planets orbit the Sun in different planes. Each orbit is tilted off from the others and Pluto is tilted by a whopping 17 degrees.

Probably the most nearly perfect alignment on record happened in 1952 BC and involved the six planets Mercury through Saturn. Then, seen from Earth, they were all within a circle, which was about six times wider than the full Moon. Something, surely, to marvel at but not the perfect geometry of the movie. Angelina could not fit that big a circle within the telescope field of view.

Also that circle did not include the rest of them: Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Our figure depicts the most recent planetary conjunction (which occurred on May 5, 2000) as seen from above the Sun's North Pole. The planets are sort of in a line but not perfectly.

The probability of all nine planets and the Moon aligning perfectly is 1 in 86 billion-trillion-trillion-trillion years. Our solar system has only been around for 4.6 billion years and its total life is only 10 billion years. The chances are: a perfect alignment won't happen during the lifetime of our Moon, Sun, and planets.

Copyright (c) 2000 - 2023 is not owned or operated by CDE Entertainment Ltd.
Lara Croft and Tomb Raider are trademarks of CDE Entertainment Ltd.
Materials in this web site are trademarked and copyrighted properties of their respective owners.