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18
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6answers
3k views

Why are the orbits of planets in the Solar System nearly circular?

Except for Mercury, the planets in the Solar System have very small eccentricities. Is this property special to the Solar System? Wikipedia states: Most exoplanets with orbital periods of 20 ...
16
votes
4answers
5k views

What did general relativity clarify about Mercury?

I frequently hear that Kepler, using his equations of orbital motion, could predict the orbits of all the planets to a high degree of accuracy -- except Mercury. I've heard that mercury's motion ...
16
votes
2answers
851 views

How do horseshoe orbits work?

An asteroid was recently discovered that is in a horseshoe orbit with respect to the earth. Is there an intuitive explanation for these orbits? It seems that the earth acts as a repulsive force where ...
10
votes
4answers
762 views

Collision of Phobos

Mars has two moons: Phobos and Deimos. Both are irregular and are believed to have been captured from the nearby asteroid belt. Phobos always shows the same face to Mars because of tidal forces ...
9
votes
4answers
649 views

Can a moon have another large body as a satellite, and are there any examples of such?

In my mind, I'm comparing it to the Sun-Earth-Moon system. After all, the Earth is primarily a satellite of the Sun, but the Moon is still gravitationally bound to the Earth. Could something like this ...
9
votes
6answers
20k views

Gravity on the International Space Station

We created a table in my physics class which contained the strength of gravity on different planet and objects in space. At altitude 0(earth), the gravitational strength is 100%. On the moon at ...
9
votes
3answers
280 views

Can an orbit be calculated using two points and transit time?

Working in only two dimensions and assuming that the central body is at the origin of the coordinate system, given two points in space and knowing the transit time between those points, as well as the ...
8
votes
3answers
266 views

Parallax, obliquity, precession, and Orion?

Today, the obliquity of the earth is about 23.4°. 6500 years ago, it was about 24.1° Imagine the blue square is the constellation of Orion, and the yellow star is the sun. Viewpoint B is you, on ...
8
votes
1answer
68 views

What could cause an asymmetric orbit in a symmetric potential?

My question can be summarized as: Given a potential with a symmetry (e.g. $z\rightarrow-z$), should I expect orbits in that potential to exhibit the same symmetry? Below is the full motivation for ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Kepler's third law doesn't give earth's orbital period! Why? [closed]

I tried to calculate earth's orbital period using Kepler's third law, but I found 365.2075 days for the orbital period instead of 365.256363004 which is the correct value. I checked everything, and I ...
7
votes
3answers
254 views

Falling through the rotating Earth

Suppose you were standing on the rotating Earth (not necessarily Equator or the poles) and suddenly your body lost the ability to avoid effortlessly passing through solid rock. Because the earth's ...
6
votes
2answers
163 views

Is there any dynamical reason for the winter solstice to happen close to the perihelion?

When the winter solstice arrives, the angular momentum of the Earth, its orbital angular momentum and its radius vector with the orbital focus in the Sun are in the same plane. This happens quite ...
6
votes
3answers
315 views

How accurately is the moment of perihelion of Earth known, and how is it measured?

Earth's perihelion passed about nine hours ago. How accurately do we know the moment of closest approach of the Earth to the center of the sun? How do we make this measurement?
5
votes
6answers
2k views

Why is the universe so organized?

If you think about the Big Bang and the flow of matter in all directions, you would think, how unorganized would this universe be? No matter how long it would take. The idea that matter or most of it ...
5
votes
2answers
451 views

How about an exact solution for the position of a planet as a function of time?

Recently I was surprised to discover that no exact solution for the position of a planet as a function of time exists. I am referring to the two-body problem in a gravitational field where Newtons law ...
5
votes
2answers
173 views

Celestial Time-Keeping and Navigation

Say, for sake of argument, someone was randomly transported in time and space. Would it be possible for them to determine their location on Earth and the current time using just observations of the ...
5
votes
1answer
214 views

Potential Energy tends to infinity on the N-Body Problem

I need help to solve this problem related with the N-Body problem, i dont understand quite well what I need to define or to express in order to solve it. We assume a particular solution to the N-Body ...
5
votes
1answer
172 views

How to derive Kepler's equation?

The Internet lacks, so far as I know, a derivation of Kepler's equation $$ M = E - e\text{sin}(E) $$ where $M$ is the mean anomaly, $E$ the eccentric anomaly and $e$ the eccentricity. Since there ...
5
votes
2answers
248 views

How to learn celestial mechanics?

I'm a PhD student in math and am really excited about celestial mechanics. I was wondering if anyone could give me a roadmap for learning this subject. The amount of information about it on the ...
4
votes
5answers
668 views

Gravitation in a space that is topologically toroidal

In my scant spare time I'm building an Asteroids game. You know - a little ship equipped with a pea shooter and a bunch of asteroids floating around everywhere waiting to be to blown up. But, I wanted ...
4
votes
1answer
493 views

How did pre-Copernican astronomers accurately predict planetary position?

Copernican elements (circular orbital elements) are not very accurate. But Copernicus simplified our understanding a great deal by placing the Sun at the center of the system. Im astonished by the ...
4
votes
2answers
150 views

Gravitational slingshot maximum

I have recently read an article about gravitation slingshot assist used by Voyagers 1-2, and was thinking on why this hasn't been used for travel between solar and other systems. I mean sligshot can ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What would it be like if we had a planet very close to us?

My desktop background rotates through a bunch of space and nature scenes, and this one came up. What would be the effect on people walking around down here, if another earth was looming overhead ...
4
votes
2answers
202 views

Is tripleaxis planet possible?

Imagine. Our solar system. Our sun. Then earth and moon orbiting it. And you have "powers" to create any planet you want, any size, any density, any weight and any velocity. Would it be possible for ...
4
votes
0answers
111 views

Why is the orbital resonance of the Galilean moons stable?

It is well known that the orbits of Ganymede, Europa and Io are in a 4:2:1 resonance. Most online sources (including but not limited to Wikipedia) say that such an orbital resonance, along with the ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Historically, how do we know that Earth moves around Sun? And it does so in an elliptical orbit?

I know the basics of solar system like how Earth moves around Sun, and that we have so many planets, elliptical orbit of earth, and how far is sun from earth etc etc. I want to take a step back and ...
3
votes
1answer
146 views

Can a very small portion of an ellipse be a parabola?

We consider that when a body is projected from any height from the earth surface with a speed lesser than the orbital speed ( tangentially to the earth surface at that point.) it follows an elliptical ...
3
votes
2answers
259 views

Do black holes accelerate in spin as they obtain more mass?

It is known that - When a star collapses during the formation of the black hole, the black hole obtains the spin of the star which it collapsed from... What I'd like to know is, If this spin ...
3
votes
2answers
77 views

What is the “associated scalar equation” of equations of motion?

In an essay I am reading on celestial mechanics the equations of motion for a 2 body problem is given as: $$\mathbf{r}''=\nabla(\frac{\mu}{r})=-\frac{\mu \mathbf{r}}{r^3}$$ Fine. Then it says the ...
3
votes
0answers
83 views

Isn't the Jacobi constant just the Lagrangian times 2?

At this wikipedia page the Jacobi constant is expressed as: $$C_J=2\left(\frac{v^2}{2}-U\right)$$ where $U$ is the potential energy and $v$ is velocity. If kinetic energy $T$ is defined (as it ...
3
votes
0answers
230 views

Simple model of the solar system. Parameters? Accuracy?

I was thinking of making a simple 2D model of the solar system, with planets moving along ellipses like $$x(t) = k_x \sin(t + k_t) (\sin(k_\phi) + \cos(k_\phi))$$ $$y(t) = k_y \cos(t + k_t) ...
3
votes
0answers
177 views

Calculation of a Gravity Resonance Keyhole

Can anyone describe the mathematics behind the calculation of a resonance keyhole (for a two-body model)? It seems like the size and position of the keyhole should be a function only of mass and ...
2
votes
5answers
2k views

Why the center of our galaxy doesn't absorb us?

Depending on the theories, the center of our galaxy is a super massive black hole, this is easy to accept as a truth, but what I couldn't simply devour is how the solar system is orbiting around it ...
2
votes
1answer
46 views

Synchronized rotation of the moon

Does the moon rotates? Yes. The rotation matches exactly the orbit of the Earth. Which means in 28 days the moon makes one rotation. Shouldn't this be also happening with the Earth rotation around the ...
2
votes
3answers
197 views

How to find a hyperbolic escape orbit with a starting point and a desired velocity after sphere exit

How would you find an escape orbit which includes a given starting point (not assuming a circular starting orbit) and escapes the sphere of influence of the current body with a given remaining ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

What parameters determine the acceleration a spacecraft can acquire using the gravity of a celestial body?

Contemporary spacecraft frequently rely upon gravity to accelerate/decelerate. Given a spacecraft already in space - What factors determine the acceleration it can acquire from the gravity of another ...
2
votes
2answers
195 views

Why do the planets orbit the Sun? [duplicate]

Why do the planets orbit the Sun? If it's because the gravity of Sun then why don't they just fall in and burn up?
2
votes
1answer
41 views

Unexpected eccentricity in moon orbit simulation

I've used Mathematica's NDSolve function to calculate the orbit of the Moon around the Earth. I used the following initial positions (perigee): ...
2
votes
3answers
830 views

Converting between Galactic and Ecliptic coordinates

I was hoping someone would be able to tell me the formula to convert between ecliptic and galactic coordinates. I've been able to convert values using ...
2
votes
0answers
230 views

For two planets in a 2:1 mean motion resonance , where will their periastron and apastron points be?

I want to animate the changing orbits of planets when they enter a mean motion resonance. Using a 2:1 resonance, I want to show a low-mass inner planet and a low-mass outer planet being tugged by a ...
2
votes
1answer
396 views

Angular momentum components as independent integrals of motion

I was told that in order to solve the Kepler problem (6 degrees of freedom in total) you have to proceed, step by step, to reduce those degrees of freedom using the integrals of motion. You do so ...
1
vote
3answers
741 views

Speed of the Moon

Why the motion of the Moon looks very slow in the sky? Doesn't it need the high speed in order to escape the earth's gravity?
1
vote
1answer
303 views

What is the typical orbital life of an artificial satellite?

The orbit of satellites around Earth eventually decays, or so I read. This is typically caused either by atmospheric drag, or by tides. I would assume most satellites have a limited service life in ...
1
vote
2answers
59 views

Is it feasible for an unmanned vehicle to travel from outside the atmosphere of one planet to another without additional propulsion?

Within the Solar System (or any other system for that matter) - Is it feasible for an unmanned vehicle to travel from outside the atmosphere of one planet to another without additional propulsion? ...
1
vote
1answer
120 views

The circumference of the Moon's orbit around the sun?

I know that it orbits the sun in what looks like a 12 sided polygon with rounded corners. But I can't seem to find the radius/circumference anywhere.
1
vote
1answer
75 views

My orbiting body is orbiting about the wrong focus of it's elliptical orbit… why?

I am coding in c++ and am computing the position of an orbiting body as a function of time. Everything is almost working. I have a nice elliptical orbit. Except, my orbiting body speeds up as it ...
1
vote
1answer
120 views

Determine orbital position after change in velocity

I am working on a satellite simulator for a project/game and I am stuck on this one bit of physics. So far I have a satellite that revolves around earth on a 2D plane following Keplerian motion using ...
1
vote
1answer
69 views

Earth moving over the Sun instead of around [on hold]

Let's say you are observing the movement of the Sun and Earth from very far away. After year 1, the Earth creates an orbital plane around the Sun. Since the objects in the universe induce forces of ...
1
vote
1answer
45 views

Getting first and second time derivative of mean motion of spacecraft - without TLE?

The Celestrak website provides information on reading the TLE ( Two-Line Element Set ) format. In Line 1, Column 34-43 & 45-52 give information about ...
1
vote
1answer
80 views

What are Lagrange points in gravitation fields? [closed]

What are Lagrange points in gravitation fields? Additionally, what are their properties? For example, if a satellite or asteroid rested at a Lagrange-point.