Celestial body that orbits following an elliptical path around a star or stellar remnant.

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Computing Planetary Positions

Shortly, I will be beginning my third year at University in Computer Science, I am a software developer and I will be required to work on a final year project. My idea for my final year project is ...
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Is the planet Mesklin as described in Hal Clement's Mission of Gravity correct?

The book Mission of Gravity describes a planet with a mass of 16 times Jupiter spinning at a rate of one revolution every 17.75 minutes. This causes it to stretch out into an oblate spheroid and has ...
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Planetary Gravity and its effects

This is my first question on the Physics portion of Stack Exchange. I was hoping to get some light on the topic of gravity. I don't have much background knowledge of physics so I might as well start ...
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Lowest gravity on Earth's surface?

I am trying to determine which on Earth's surface has the lowest gravity. Googling is not finding anything concrete. My natural inclination would be to think of Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador, being on ...
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639 views

Gravitational force of the Earth [duplicate]

Why does gravitational force of the Earth decrease as we move towards the centre of the Earth? Where as inverse square rule says that distance is less than gravitational force is more.
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964 views

What planets are visible to the naked eye from Mars?

Here on Earth we are blessed with being able to see some other planets, Mars & Venus etc, with the naked eye on a fairly regular basis thanks to the distance between the planets. What about from ...
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Length of day of a gas giant

How can the rotational speed, or the length of a day be determined or estimated in a planet which is composed entirely of non homogeneous fluids? There must be internal forces (pressure gradients, ...
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95 views

Gravity on and inside a planet-sized bi-lobed body

Admittedly, for yet another science-fiction project Say I have a planet-like body shaped like a sphere with a torus subtracted out of it, leaving a sort of "apple core" shape. Firstly, is the ...
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256 views

Earth-Moon orbiting each other after being engulfed by Red Giant

Recently some exoplanets were discovered which are thought to be the leftover cores of giant planets that had survived a star becoming a Red Giant and then shrinking back to a subdwarf. If giant ...
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314 views

Determining Average Tidal Effects

Maximum tidal heights vary widely across the globe, from 16 m in the Bay of Fundy to mere centimeters elsewhere. These variations are due to coastline and shoreline differences. This makes it ...
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266 views

Convert latitude of lowest altitude to argument of perigee?

I am designing an orbit around Mercury. I know the values I want for the semi-major axis, eccentricity, inclination, and RAAN. I want the altitude of closest approach (periapse) to occur at ...
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277 views

What would the collision between a (large) solid planet and a gas giant be like?

Assuming a Jupiter-like planet and an Earth-like planet (Except, say... half the mass of Jupiter), what would happen when the two collide? For clarification: What would the actual collision be like? ...
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114 views

What coordinate system is used to describe planets positions in the universe?

How are planets positions described in the space and in respect to what? For example is Sun the origo and right now at this moment Earth has [coord_X, coord_Y, coord_Z]? or maybe [lng, lat]? ...
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Are there certain alignments in planetary orbits that create interesting effects in the moons or planets?

We have some interesting examples such as Mercury's perihelion The planet Mercury is especially susceptible to Jupiter's influence because of a small celestial coincidence: Mercury's perihelion, ...
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What possible science could we do during the 2012 Venus transit? [closed]

I had previously asked about how useful everyday solar physics data is to other astronomers ... But about a year from now, we will have another Venus transit, where Venus will pass between the sun and ...
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991 views

How to concisely explain apparent retrograde motions of planets?

Some planetary orbits occasionally can appear to move backwards to an observer on the Earth? Does anyone know concise, clear, web-based visualizations, animations or tutorials that clearly show how ...
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332 views

Can one predict mass distribution in a solar system given the mass of the star?

I'm trying to write a program to procedurally generate solar systems at a reasonably high level (I'm not interested in doing an n-body dust particle formation simulation). Is there some sort of ...
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256 views

Would a considerably big asteroid be disintegrated by the Earth's Roche limit?

If there was a big asteroid with a diameter of say 50km+ in a collision course with the Earth (not orbiting), would it disintegrate into smaller chunks due to the Earth's Roche limit, or the time it ...
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64 views

Vesta dwarf planet status

Now that we have close-up photos of Vesta, which the IAU had previously said was a candidate dwarf planet, when is the IAU going to decide the issue? Personally, Vesta doesn't look round enough to me. ...
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Proportionality constant in crater equations

I have searched for equations regarding craters and I came across two of them. The first one is from this NOAO website in the level two section. There, it says that, $$ D^3\propto E $$ where $E$ is ...
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Is it possible that only one hemisphere of a planet has an atmosphere?

Suppose there is a tidally locked planet orbiting a star. The planet's surface consists of a global ocean, that is, liquid water. At the inner hemisphere the temperature is so high that the water is ...
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Does Kepler's law only apply to planets?

Does Kepler's law only apply to planets? If so why doesn't it apply to other objects undergoing circular motion? By Kepler's law I'm referring to $T^2 \propto r^3$
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What is the mass distribution within the sun?

Jupiter is roughly 1/1000 the total mass of the sun. To get some idea of what effect Jupiter's gravity may have on the sun I'd like to know the approximate mass distribution of the sun. (i.e) the ...
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217 views

How could Horrocks have measured the AU?

I have always understood that the great historical significance of the transits of Venus, and the reason for the expeditions mounted to observe it, were that, by observing it simultaneously from two ...
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845 views

Radial fall in a Newtonian gravitational field [duplicate]

Suppose an object of mass $m$ starts at rest at a radial distance $ r_0$ from a perfectly spherical mass $M$ (where $m << M$), $r_0 > R =$ radius of $M$. Can we analytically determine when ...
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514 views

Changes in planetary orbit?

Forgive a novice and her naive curiosity, but I was wondering about planetary orbit and the aging of planets. As a planet ages, does its transit around its sun/star decrease or increase in speed? ...
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Link between Earth and Mars

I am trying to the calculate the link budget for link between a ground station on Earth (with a particular latitude and longitude) and a rover at a particular location on the surface of Mars, either ...
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For the long-term evolution of atmosphere/orbit, when is perihelion more important than mean distance?

When we want to figure out the long-term evolution of a planet's atmosphere/orbit, when is perihelion more important than mean distance? E.g. some processes (like Jeans Escape and escape of ...
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How many celestial bodies could be in stable orbit at roughly the same distance from a star?

How many planet-like celestial bodies of roughly the same mass (say within 50%) could orbit a star at roughly (say within 10%) the same distance from the star and be in stable orbits. By stable I ...
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131 views

Direction of planetary tilt

I am building a 3d solar system simulation using WebGL and have come across the problem of establishing the direction of tilt of the various planets. No I know the tilt of the planets in degrees what ...
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Finding the position of a planet between two other planets of known mass and distance

Here is the question: A planet with mass $m$ and a second with mass $M$ are separated by a distance $d$. A third planet with mass $m_3$ happens to be midway between $M$ and $m$. Where could ...
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166 views

How big can a cube-shaped planet be? [duplicate]

There can be small cube planets or asteroids, but as they get bigger, the gravitational force compresses them to a sphere. But what is the maximum size?
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105 views

Direct rocky planet formation without protostellar disk?

Inspired by this question, which sort of asked what I'm asking, but emphasized a different point (and the answers accordingly addressed that). Can a rocky planet form directly from the collapse of ...
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How would the composition of the Venusian atmosphere visually affect the sunrise and sunset there?

The Venusian atmosphere is according to CalTech's webpage What is the atmosphere of Venus like? is 90 times heavier, than Earth's, containing predominantly carbon dioxide, some nitrogen, sulfuric acid ...
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What day/night cycles, climate and seasons would experience Alpha Centauri Bb inhabitants?

Alpha Centauri Bb is an exoplanet orbiting Alpha Centauri B. It is asserted that given the close distance to the star the planet should be tidally locked. The orbiting period of the planet is about ...
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Lumped circuit model of Earth and Sun as a thermal system

I want to design a thermal model of the Sun heating up the Earth. The circuit below is my own design (I don't know if there is a better way to model it. If there is, please tell me.). I want to ...
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268 views

Does the Moon's orbital inclination follow the wobble in the Earth's rotation?

As the Earth wobbles during rotation, does the higher gravity at the equator tend to pull the moon toward an equatorial orbit even as the earth does that thousands of years wobble cycle? It would ...
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Hemispheric dichotomy of Mars and unstable spin axis

Is the following explanation plausible? Can you spot any flaws? Mars doesn't have a large moon to stabilise its axis of rotation. At some point early in its formation its axis might have been ...
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Why does the moon not revolve around the sun directly?

The sun pulls on the moon with a force that is more than twice the magnitude of the force with which the earth attracts the moon. Why, then, doesn’t the sun take the moon away from the earth?
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2012: Is there some astronomical event happening?

The news media has publicized that 2012 is the end of the Mayan calendar, and that all the planets will be aligned. Is there any truth to this?
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How long does it take for radio or light waves to travel from Earth to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto?

I know it roughly takes 20 minutes from Earth to Mars, and 8 minutes from the Sun to Earth, but don't know how long for the other planets on my list.
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Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact on Jupiter

When the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacted with Jupiter it created a ball of fire 3000 Km high and it left a mark on the surface of the planet that was visible for weeks (source: Wikipedia). How was the ...
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What is the cause of planetary rotation. Not orbital rotation [closed]

I am a senior in high school, sixteen years old. I think differently than most in my class. Recently, I have been thinking about alternative causes for the rotation of our planets. My current thought ...
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How could they tell things weigh a sixth of their “Earth weight” on the moon?

I frequently keep hearing stuff about "gravity on the moon is only a sixth of that as Earth's" and "of course you'll weigh more on Jupiter". I do know the relative sizes of those bodies allow for ...
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Why isn't all of the dust in a nebula used in the formation of a star?

I was watching a show on discovery and according to it, in a nebula the dust and gases slowly come together and as the gravity increases and the pressure rises in the core the gases fuse together and ...
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Mercury's orbit

Mercury has a weird orbit, it's elliptical orbit rotates around an axis, but for no reason. My question is why? What is causing this?
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How to correct flares and sharply focus on my telescope when viewing planets.

A month or two ago I purchased a “Skywatcher Explorer 130P Newtonian Reflector” telescope - which so far is brilliant when looking at the Moon, esp. using a neutral density filter. However, when ...
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When Venus is the brightest when viewed from Earth?

Nowadays Venus is very bright. I can spot it during broad daylight without problem. It's because it's near Earth and appear as a crescent. This made me think: as it's reaching the inferior ...
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Is it possible for the planets to align?

We've all heard the statement that on the 21st of December, the planets in the solar system will "align" from the point of view of the Earth. I assume this means that they would all be in the same ...
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How do the day/night temperature variations of moons compare to those of their planets?

Does the planet's eclipse have a significant impact on the flux of light hitting the moon? Does tidal locking have any effect on the day-night difference of the planet?