Human Orrery

To find which tiles of the AOP Human Orrery each planet is nearest to, enter a date below.

You can also learn more about the AOP Human Orrery, and orreries in general, at the bottom of the page.

Tile numbers for xx/xx/xxxx

Playing at 1x

How to Use the AOP Human Orrery

AOP Human Orrery
The human orrery in the grounds of the observatory, next to the Robinson dome and library

Enter a date above to find which tile each planet is then closest too. Have your friends stand on different tiles and see where the planets are in relation to each other.

As you move forwards and backwards in time, notice how the planets move at different speeds, with the planets closest to the Sun, like Mercury, moving the fastest.

Also included in the AOP Human Orrery are two comets, Halley's and Encke. These don't follow the near circular orbits of the planets, instead reaching far out in the Solar System before swooping in close to the Sun. Halley's Comet reaches so far out that it leaves our orrery, ending up beyond the Calver Dome at the far extent of its orbit where it spends most of its time. As they fall in towards the Sun the comets get faster and faster. You can see by how few tiles there are for them when close to the Sun.

Open up the model of the Solar System above to see where each planet is on the Orrery, and press play to see how they move around the Solar System.

Please note that for the model on this page, we have displayed the Solar System on a logarithmic scale for clarity, otherwise the inner planets would be overlapping on your screen.

What is an Orrery?

AOP Orrery Model
One of the orreries in the AOP collection

For millennia humankind has known that some star-like objects move around the sky differently to the fixed backdrop of the stars. We now know these 'wandering stars' to be the planets of our Solar System, and have been able to accurately predict their positions in the night sky.

Mechanical models which show how the planets, including the Earth, move around the Sun on their orbits became prevalent in the 18th century. They are known as orreries.

Built in 2004 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the first orrery, the AOP Human Orrery allows you to take on the role of the planets. Tiles correspond to where the planets can be in their orbits around the Sun. We calculate for you the tile each planet has reached on any date you set. Moving between tiles represents a step in time.