The path a body takes while moving through space under the influence of the gravitational forces of other bodies

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Where does the extra kinetic energy come from in a gravitational slingshot?

I read in this answer in this site that the KE a free-falling ball acquires is not originated by the attracting body but that energy was actually stored in the ball when it had been lifted to the ...
48
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5answers
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Is there a small enough planet or asteroid you can orbit by jumping?

I just had this idea of orbiting a planet just by jumping and then flying upon it on its orbit kind of like superman. So, Would it be theoretically possible or is there a chance of that small body to ...
35
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5answers
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Is it possible to have a geostationary satellite over the poles?

My understanding of orbital mechanics is very limited, but as I understand geostationary satellite, they stay in place by having an orbital speed corresponding to the spot they're orbiting over. So ...
34
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2answers
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Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same disc/plane/layer?

I always see pictures of the solar system where our sun is in the middle and the planets surround the sun. All these planets move on orbits on the same layer. Why?
26
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3answers
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Why do the planets' orbital distances fall on an exponential curve?

Background: I was recently reading a book on the planets to my son and I noticed a pattern in the distributions of the planets. The planets' distances roughly follow an exponential distribution. ...
22
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6answers
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Could there be a star orbiting around a planet?

I wonder if there ever could be a star (really small) which may orbit around a planet (really big)?
22
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1answer
1k views

Why does it take so long to get to the ISS?

I don't understand why when first launched Space X's Dragon capsule had to orbit the Earth many times in order to match up with the ISS? Was this purely to match it's speed, or to get closer (as in ...
21
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5answers
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What symmetry causes the Runge-Lenz vector to be conserved?

Noether's theorem relates symmetries to conserved quantities. For a central potential $V \propto \frac{1}{r}$, the Laplace-Runge-Lenz vector is conserved. What is the symmetry associated with the ...
19
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5answers
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How close does light have to be, to orbit a perfect sphere the size and mass of Earth?

The moon orbits Earth at about $380,\!000 \,\mathrm{km}$ away from it, at around $3,600 \,\mathrm{km}$ an hour. I was thinking, with light traveling at $300,\!000 \,\mathrm{km/s}$, how close to ...
18
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4answers
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Why doesn't dark matter affect planetary motion?

If the universe is made up of ~95% dark matter, and it interacts only gravitationally then why didn't Newton and Kepler discover it before ? Why does it show itself only in the radial velocity profile ...
18
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6answers
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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 ...
18
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4answers
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How do you calculate the anomalous precession of Mercury?

One of the three classic tests of general relativity is the calculation of the precession of the perihelion of Mercury's orbit. This precession rate had been precisely measured using data collected ...
18
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2answers
268 views

Why don't stars in globular clusters all orbit in the same plane?

Globular clusters like Omega Centauri certainly don't seem to be very coplanar at all. In other words, why doesn't the explanation at Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same ...
16
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9answers
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Why are orbits elliptical?

Almost all of the orbits of planets and other celestial bodies are elliptical, not circular. Is this due to gravitational pull by other nearby massive bodies? If this was the case a two body system ...
16
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4answers
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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
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4answers
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Are tidal power plants slowing down Earth's rotation?

Are tidal power plants slowing down Earth's rotation to the speed of the orbiting moon? (1 rotation per 28 cca days) Are they vice versa increasing the speed of moon orbiting by generating some ...
15
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1answer
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When will the Moon reach escape velocity?

From what I know, the Moon is accelerating away from the Earth. Do we know when it will reach escape velocity? How do we calculate this?
15
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1answer
880 views

How intense a magnetic field would it take to keep an hypothetical iron-made moon orbiting around it?

The intention of the question is to provide an example of the weakness of gravity. I imagine a horseshoe magnet located at the Earth's centre (remove the Earth), and a ferromagnetic moon. How ...
14
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13answers
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Why do we say that the earth moves around the sun?

In history we are taught that the Catholic Church was wrong, because the Sun does not move around the Earth, instead the Earth moves around the Sun. But then in physics we learn that movement is ...
14
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5answers
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Why do we always see the same side of the Moon? [duplicate]

I am puzzled why we always see the same side of the Moon even though it is rotating around its own axis apart from revolving around the earth. Shouldn't this only be possible if the Moon is not ...
14
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3answers
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Why are Saturn's rings so thin?

Take a look at this picture (from APOD http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110308.html): I presume that rocks within rings smash each other. Below the picture there is a note which says that Saturn's rings ...
13
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5answers
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Why are these periods the same: a low earth orbit and oscillations through the center of the earth?

Related: Why does earth have a minimum orbital period? I was learning about GPS satellite orbits and came across that Low Earth Orbits (LEO) have a period of about 88 minutes at an altitude of 160 ...
13
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6answers
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Is Melancholia's orbit impossible?

In the 2011 movie Melancholia, a planet, also called Melancholia, enters the solar system and hits the Earth. I want to leave aside the (also unreasonable) aspect that planet "hides behind the Sun" ...
13
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1answer
814 views

James Webb Space Telescope's halo orbit at Lagrange point L2

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is expected to be launched in 2018 and operate in the L2 vicinity, about 1.5 million km from Earth. It will be placed in a halo orbit around the unstable L2 ...
12
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2answers
579 views

Does an elliptical orbit of a satellite maintain its orientation as the Earth revolves?

Imagine a satellite in an elliptical orbit around Earth. As the earth travels around the sun, does the elliptical orbit of the satellite swing around Earth, as pictured in A, or does it maintain a ...
12
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2answers
455 views

What accounts for the discrepancies in my calculations of year lengths?

A common exercise in many introductory astronomy texts is to use the lengths of various kinds days to calculate the approximate length of the corresponding year. For example, ratio $k$ of the length ...
11
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2answers
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Is it probable that planets will stop orbiting in ellipses?

I saw this video, but I had the impression that orbiting in an ellipse or a circle is quite a coincidence - it depends on how the planet got into the Solar System. Because I think that either all ...
11
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4answers
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Is Feynman's explanation of how the moon stays in orbit wrong?

Yesterday, I understood what it means to say that the moon is constantly falling (from a lecture by Richard Feynman). In the picture below there is the moon in green which is orbiting the earth in ...
11
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3answers
610 views

Is it possible that 5 planets can revolve around a single star in a single orbit?

I'm writing a novel and I'm quite confused if this system could be possible in the real universe. Is it possible that a system exist, where 5 identical planets which could be of same characteristics ...
11
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1answer
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Is there a “map” of the interplanetary transport network?

To my understanding, the idea behind the interplanetary transport network is that areas near heavy objects and their Lagrange points are accesible with comparatively little energy, for example one ...
10
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3answers
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Gravity in other dimensions than 3 and stable orbits

I have heard from here that stable orbits (ones that require a large amount of force to push it significantly out of it's elliptical path) can only exist in a three spatial dimensions because gravity ...
10
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6answers
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What is the simplest way to prove that the Earth orbits the Sun?

Assume you're talking to someone ignorant of the basic facts of astronomy. How would you prove to them that the Earth orbits the Sun? Similarly, how would you prove to them that the Moon orbits ...
10
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4answers
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Why don't planets have Circular orbits?

This might be a completely wrong question, but this is bothering me since many days ago. Given the mass (Sun) curves the space around it, gravitation is the result of such curved space (Correct me if ...
10
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1answer
484 views

Apollo and orbital mechanics: orbital decay if the Trans Earth Injection (TEI) burn had failed

I'm reading Jim Lovell (Apollo 8 and 13) and Jeffrey Kluger's book Apollo 13, which is a fantastic read about a long past era I only have kindergarten memories of. On page 54 there is a paragraph that ...
10
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3answers
456 views

No closed orbits for a Newtonian gravitational field in 4 spatial dimensions

We are supposed to show that orbits in 4D are not closed. Therefore I derived a Lagrangian in hyperspherical coordinates $$L=\frac{m}{2}(\dot{r}^2+\sin^2(\gamma)(\sin^2(\theta)r^2 \dot{\phi}^2+r^2 ...
10
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1answer
470 views

Mars just collided with Earth! A question of eccentricity

One of the standard theories behind the formation of our Moon is the giant impact hypothesis, according to which Earth was struck by a Mars-sized body (about $10\%$ the mass of Earth) early in its ...
9
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6answers
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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
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4answers
582 views

Two planets in same orbit - not planets?

Let us pretend for a moment that there are two identical planets that are exactly opposite their star from each other and are the same distance from said star. (This would make them, at all times, ...
9
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3answers
591 views

Questions about the Solar System

Most images you see of the solar system are 2D and all planets orbit in the same plane. In a 3D view, are really all planets orbiting in similar planes? Is there a reason for this? I'd expect that ...
9
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2answers
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Put a bullet into orbit around the moon

While I was watching this beautiful video, the absence of air friction pushed me to ask myself: While standing on the surface of the moon, what is the initial velocity by which you can fire a bullet ...
9
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3answers
395 views

Is the gravitational potential of a planet in orbit always equal to minus the squared velocity?

Say a planet (mass $m$) is orbiting a star (mass $M$) in a perfect circle, so it is in circular motion. $F=ma$ and the gravitational force between two masses $F=\frac{GMm}{r^2}$ so ...
9
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2answers
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Might a planet perform figure-8 orbits around two stars?

Might a planet perform figure-8 orbits around two stars? I'm thinking that if the two stars were equal mass (and not orbiting each other) then a planet that were to go right between them would ...
9
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3answers
285 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 ...
9
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2answers
422 views

Was Jupiter's mass “guessed at” by Kepler or Galileo?

Following Kepler's publication of his 3rd law of planetary motion1, $$p^2 / r^3 = 1$$ in 1619, it would have been possible to use telescopic observations to arrive at an estimate of the orbital ...
9
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1answer
91 views

How can a planet gravitationally capture objects?

I would expect that any asteroid or other object originating far away but passing near a planet would pick up speed and energy as it approaches, but unless it comes into contact with the atmosphere ...
9
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2answers
268 views

Intuitive explanation of why orbits are closed?

Yesterday my brother asked me how orbits work. Suppose for the sake of the question that you are trying to put a rocket in orbit around the Earth. I explained that orbiting is essentially being in ...
9
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1answer
351 views

What are common methods for calculating the time dependency of elliptical orbit?

After playing a game called "Kerbal Space Program" I got interested in orbital mechanics and started messing with simplified calculations to determine $\Delta v$ requirements. In which I compared two ...
8
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12answers
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Is the distance between the sun and the earth increasing?

M = mass of the sun m = mass of the earth r = distance between the earth and the sun The sun is converting mass into energy by nuclear fusion. $F = \frac{GMm}{r^2} = \frac{mv^2}{r} \rightarrow r ...
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8answers
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How does the earth move?

My son who is 5 years old is asking me a question about how the earth moves around the sun. What answer should I give him?
8
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2answers
568 views

What causes the orbital eccentricity?

I found some websites trying to attribute this to the external other forces affecting the 2 body problem to follow an elliptical rather than a circular orbit, but I am not convinced though. I think ...