Quote Originally Posted by Lord Torath View Post
As has been said, none of the planets orbit in quite the same plane. The earth's orbit is 7 degrees off the the sun's equatorial plane.

Here's a list of the planets (and Pluto) and their orbital inclinations: Table.
Here's a table of the planets (and Pluto) with their average orbital distances: Table.

Multiply each planet's average orbital distance by the sine of its inclination to get the maximum distance the planet will ever be above or below.

Looks like, if you're coming in along the ecliptic, your worst culprit is Neptune, which can be up to 86.3 million miles away from the ecliptic. Next worst is Saturn, which can be 38.5 million from the ecliptic.

If you knew which side of the ecliptic each planet was, then a beam 124.8 million miles thick would catch all the current planets. If you didn't know which side of the ecliptic the planets were on, then you'd want to double Neptune's offset just to be safe: 172.6 million miles thick. If you want to center your beam on the sun, aligned with Earth's orbit (the ecliptic) your beam would need to be 5.6 billion miles wide and 172.6 million miles thick. Or in non-dumb units, that's 9.00 billion km wide and 278 million km thick.

That's an aspect ratio of about 32:1
Thank you, that was exactly what i wanted to know. I figured it would be something like that due to space being huge, therefore even a tiny variance in angle equates to a massive distance, but I couldnt be sure.