What accounts for the different ways retrograde motion can appear?I've been looking for this answer for hours and cant find it anywhere please help me this is soooo frustrating!

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bandmanjoe | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

Well, the simplest answer would be it depends on your orientation as the viewer of the retrograde motion.  The term retrograde means "away from" or "backwards".  Anything described with a retrograde motion is experiencing a movement that is the reverse of what would be considered normal.  The "normal" motion here, of course, would be prograde motion.  A good example would be how we view the rotation of Venus from Earth.  Venus has retrograde rotation, while Earth has prograde rotation.

Think about it like this:  it all depends on your vantage point as the viewer.  If you are on a Carousel at the local carnival, and it is turning in a specific direction, you base everyone and everything's motion in reference to that.  If the Carousel stopped, then started spinning in the opposite direction, the way you viewed all that motion would be reversed.  It all depends on your vantage point, the way you are viewing the motion.


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