Hello, I’m CSO Marek from Mesa, Arizona, and I’m a student at Taylor Junior High.

Did you know that planets are not actually a perfect sphere? You might think that nothing can be perfectly something and that’s correct; but planets are something else called oblate spheroids (egg shaped). The reason behind this is that for everything that spins, there are two forces interacting with that object—centrifugal and centripetal force.

Centrifugal is the apparent force on an object in rotation that makes it want to fly away from the center of rotation, while centripetal is a real force that keeps the object from flying away when in rotation. These forces interact with any object in motion, including planets!

As planets spin, the dirt, dust, etc. want to fly away because of centrifugal force, but stays due to gravity, which is this example’s version of centripetal force. But when the rotation becomes quicker and more extreme, so does the force, which makes the object farther out then rotate slowly. That is why the equator bulges out, creating an egg-shaped planet, due to its high-speed rotation than any other lines of latitude.

Understanding why planets are oblate spheroids is just one of the many fascinating facts about our universe. If you’re curious to learn more about planetary shapes and other amazing astronomy topics, check out NASA’s website at www.nasa.gov!