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37
votes
4answers
2k views

How far ahead can we predict solar and lunar eclipses?

The solar system is non-integrable and has chaos. The sun-earth-moon three-body system might be chaotic. So, how far into the future can we predict solar eclipses and/or lunar eclipses? How about ...
34
votes
7answers
4k views

“Falling upward” - how far you have to be from Earth to start falling to the Moon?

Talking about gravity with my 9 y/o she asked when do we start "falling upward" to the Moon. What is the distance at which the Moon's gravitational attraction is higher than that of the Earth and thus ...
18
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
959 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
256 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
784 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
742 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
25k 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
317 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
328 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 ...
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
1k views

Rocky Planet in the center of System [duplicate]

We all know that mostly stars are at the center of planetary systems, but is it possible that instead of a star there was a rocky planet in the center with stars (and other planets and moons) orbiting ...
7
votes
2answers
321 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
185 views

What is the origin of spin of celestial objects?

In an older question from June 2011, Why does each celestial object spin on its own axis?, apparently revived by the system, a user is asking about the origin of the rotation of celestial bodies. The ...
7
votes
3answers
275 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
419 views

Are there planetary systems where the planes of orbits vary greatly?

Inspired by this question, are there any known planetary systems with largely varying planes of orbit? For example a system where two planets have perpendicular planes?
6
votes
2answers
626 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
193 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
1answer
320 views

Does a tidally locked planet have seasons?

Could a tidally locked planet have seasons? According to my understanding, a tidally locked planet rotates around itself exactly once per rotation around its sun. However, if the axis of rotation of ...
6
votes
3answers
323 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?
6
votes
1answer
99 views

Why is the Oort cloud spherical?

Having read up a bit about the Oort cloud hypothesis, I find I don't quite understand this. Why is the Oort cloud spherical while the rest of the solar system is disk-shaped?
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
487 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
179 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
252 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
278 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
278 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
214 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
920 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
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
220 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
2answers
75 views

Why is the Milky Way flat? [duplicate]

I read recently that the galactic "flatness" of the Milky Way is due to the rotation of the galaxy combined with a vast stretch of time. Yet, I also read where 1) the Milky Way rotates once every 225 ...
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
5answers
3k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
161 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
1k views

How does Earth carry Moon with it, if it can not force Moon to touch it by gravitational force?

Earth's gravitational force is acting on its Moon in such a way that it forces the Moon to rotate round its orbit by centripetal force and carries it while rotating round the Sun by gravitational ...
3
votes
1answer
62 views

Is the best data about Mercury's perihelion shift really 60 years old?

The advance of the perihelion of Mercury is one of the four classical tests of general relativity. I wonder what's the most precise modern measurement of it. However, while scanning the literature, ...
3
votes
1answer
224 views

Standard gravitational parameter - different formulas

Why we have two formulas for Standard Gravitational Parameter: $$\mu=GM \ \,{\rm and}\, \mu = rv^2 \ .$$ I don't see any direct connection between the two formulas. How can we derive the second from ...
3
votes
2answers
267 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
1answer
69 views

Why does matter gather as discs around massive objects? [duplicate]

Why do discs, like rings of Saturn and the spiral shape of our galaxy form around massive objects, instead of just a (spherical?) cloud of matter?
3
votes
2answers
93 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
64 views

A proof for Newtonian origin of residual perihelion advances in solar system

In an Amazon book it is given a very simple formula $$\delta = \frac{k}{T^{5/3}}$$ conforming to which the so-called residual advance of perihelion $\delta$ of each inner planet in solar system ...
3
votes
1answer
71 views

Collisions of celestial objects

When massive, spherical celestial objects collide, how long does it take for the objects to coalesce into a new, larger, spherical entity under the influence of gravity? Examples of the above:- ...
3
votes
0answers
106 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
238 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
185 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
1answer
78 views

Faster spinning moon

Let's say we somehow speed up the moon's rotation. (I'm thinking about a big asteroid smashing into it, but I'm open to better ideas.) Here are some questions: How fast could we get the moon to spin ...
2
votes
2answers
123 views

What motion can emerge in a still universe? [duplicate]

I consider a very large non homogeneous cloud of dust in isolation. No external gravitational interactions. It is initially completely still and start collapsing under the its own gravity. Can the ...
2
votes
3answers
305 views

Gravitational field has no curl? What about gas discs around stars, black holes, etc.?

So everybody says the gravitational field has no curl, and is not comparable to a liquid swirling around a drain. Observationally, of course, there are many examples of vector fields (which I think ...