Every model of the solar system seems to follow a specific orientation in which the upper side of the system is Earth's north half and the lower side of the system is Earth's southern half. So is North and South in space, or up and down based on Earth's up and down?

  • $\begingroup$ You might possibly find this question and my answer interesting, as it deals with fictional examples of up and down in outer space and discusses the fictional and imaginary physics needed for up and down in space to be real. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/231826/… $\endgroup$ May 25, 2020 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ @M.A.Golding Yeah, that was actually my question too. X) I needed to learn the basics of how directions/orientation is determined in space so I could better understand how it would work in sci-fi, and additionally, Astronomy Stack Exchange was where I could get scientific, real answers, while I could get the Star Trek-universe or sci-fi answers on Sci-fi Stack Exchange. $\endgroup$ May 25, 2020 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ Down is where the Enemy's Gate is. $\endgroup$ May 26, 2020 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft I looked that quote up and found that it was from "Ender's Game." I remember watching the movie years ago--and then I got hooked on reading the summary in Wikipedia and reading the "Ender's Game wiki" thing. $\endgroup$ May 26, 2020 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? "Up" and "down" in Space $\endgroup$ Nov 29, 2023 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


For humans up and down is related to gravity. So you would need to choose a reference first. If you are in outer space and your feet point to the sun and your head to Jupiter, you'd be rightside up (if the sun is the center) and upside down (if Jupiter is the reference).

North and south do not have any physical relationship with up and down. Neither in our planet, nor in space.

In space you have to choose a coordinate system. In those systems you have a reference plane, latitude and longitude. For latitude (+90 to -90) the positives numbers are those that would correspond to the north of the equatorial plane.


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