This is pretty awesome: an interactive map of the solar system that lets you see how the major objects in our solar system move around the sun. Click and drag to see where everything will be relative to one another at any given date.

Jeroen Gommers put together the animation, and had these thoughts on the purpose of the project:

This interactive aims to give people a sense of how the planets in our solar system orbit the sun. In a simplified graphical presentation the planets are seen orbiting the sun at a relatively high speed. The user is encouraged to grab any one of these planets, drag it around the sun manually and experience the orbit periods of the other planets as they are driven along their orbit at relative speeds, uncovering the ‘interplanetary clockwork’. This alone is the simple essence of the interactive.

What makes this a really interesting tool is that it shows just how everything moves together. In addition to the major planets, we can see the minors as well: Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake and Eris as they make their way around the sun.

It’s not 100% accurate: the orbits are squished in together, and the scales of the planets are off, but it gets the point across: take a couple of minutes and watch as Mercury races along, while the outer planets take their time to complete their orbits. Space is big, and some things move much faster than others.

[h/t Jeroen Gommers]