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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148 views

Frequency of nomad planets passing within 30 AU of the sun

A recent estimate by the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (a joint institute of Stanford and SLAC) is that there are circa 100000 times as many 'nomad planets' as stars I ...
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155 views

Keeping air in a well

Let's say I've got an Earth-like planet with no atmosphere: it's just a barren ball of rock. I want to live there, but I don't like domes, so instead I'm just going to dig a big hole and let gravity ...
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128 views

Biggest crater in the Solar System

It seems that the biggest crater in the Solar System is Borealis Basin on Mars. The Wikipedia entry and this piece of news say it has been formed by an impact with a body of around 1600 - ...
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700 views

Altering Venus rotational speed to match Earth's via weather manipulation

Venus rotates approximately 6.5 km an hour Earth rotates approximately 1650 km/h how fast could we speed up Venus's rotation via only weather manipulation ( maybe a giant fractal lens between Venus ...
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96 views

Synchronising the Earth's rotation via mass redistribution

How much material would have to be moved per year from mountain-tops to valleys in order to keep the Earth's rotation synchronised with UTC, thus removing the need for leap seconds to be periodically ...
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152 views

Are Uranus and Neptune too big for their location?

So I was watching some TV, and I heard Dr. Plait mention that the planets Uranus and Neptune are too big to be located so far out in our solar system. Now, I heard his explanation on the show as to ...
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166 views

Earth's stationary iron core

Why is the earth's iron core stationary, while the liquid matal circles around it creating the magnetic shield. Don't understand how can the entire planet rotate where as the planet's center is ...
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411 views

Why don't any of the gas giants have moons of Earth's mass (or greater) that orbit them? Is this generalizable to exoplanet gas giants?

Now, we know that the composition of the outer planets tend to contain a much higher ratio of ice over rock. [1] So the lack of Earth-like moons around the outer planets that this could be an artifact ...
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114 views

Interstellar bodies

As a solar system evolves the planets interact, and in trying to achieve a harmonious state some bodies are ejected. Space is big, but I have heard that some meteorites have been found with anomalous ...
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539 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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81 views

Cassini: What information could be gained from the 2017 impact with Saturn?

First of all: Will Cassini be operational in 2017 (pending no unforeseen equipment failures)? Power Communications ... What information could we gain? Properties of Saturn How to build more ...
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1answer
888 views

How big (compared to our moon) would Saturn look from Titan's surface?

How large in the night sky would Saturn look from Titan's surface? I believe they are tidally locked.
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2k views

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. ...
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2answers
11k views

Is the moon a planet?

Can our moon qualify as a planet? With regard or without regard to the exact definition of the planet, can the moon be considered as planet as Mercury, Venus and Earth etc. not as the satellite of the ...
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5answers
9k views

How does gravity work underground?

Would the effect of gravity on me change if I were to dig a very deep hole and stand in it? If so, how would it change? Am I more likely to be pulled downwards, or pulled towards the edges of the ...
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1answer
4k views

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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How many Pluto sized planetoids have been discovered?

How many planetoids have been discovered that are, say, 50% the size of Pluto or larger? Where are they? Incidentally, what is the difference between a planet, a planetoid, and an asteroid?
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82 views

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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1answer
83 views

How plausible is a subsurface ocean on Pluto?

According to this article on physorg.com, it's likely that Pluto has a subsurface ocean of liquid water. It suggests that the ocean would be about 165 km deep, under an equally deep crust of solid ...
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6answers
734 views

Why does the earth rotate? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why does every thing spin? So why would the earth, or any planet for that matter, rotate along an axis? I know of no force which could come into play here, so i assume ...
6
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1answer
28 views

Liquid Water in “mid-ice” on Europa. Mechanism?

Recently I read this entry by Dr. Phil Plait (a.k.a. The Bad Astronomer). He is talking about a lake of water contained within the ice layer of Europa. the lake is completely embedded in the ice ...
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3answers
19 views

Does anybody actually do astrometry in the 21st century?

I mean the nitty-gritty measurements of positions of stars and planets using transit circles. The transit instruments I've seen are mostly in national observatories and are essentially museum pieces: ...
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0answers
441 views

How do I find equations for the distance of the planets relative to one another?

I know I should be able to piece together some basic Newtonian equations for this, but I'm not sure where to start. I want to be able to choose one planet as the center and calculate its distance ...
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791 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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48 views

Transit of Mercury: how did he see it?

On November 7, 1631 Pierre Gassendi saw the transit of Mercury across the face of the Sun. How did he see it? I mean what instrument was used to reduce the apparent brightness of the Sun?
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265 views

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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45 views

Does Mercury have a balmy spot?

From Wikipedia: Although the daylight temperature at the surface of Mercury is generally extremely high, observations strongly suggest that ice exists on Mercury. Does that mean there could be a ...
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1answer
616 views

Why does Jupiter emit more energy than it receives?

I hear that Jupiter and Saturn emit more energy than they receive from the Sun. This excess energy is supposedly due to contraction. Is this accepted as fact (or is it controversial)? Does this ...
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2k views

Why Aren't Saturn's Rings Clumping into Moons?

While reading with my son about how a Mars-like planet collided with the early Earth that resulted in our current moon, it said the initial debris also formed a ring, but that ring ended up getting ...
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2answers
49 views

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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1answer
123 views

Will Neptune change Pluto's orbit some day?

My seven-year-old son loves astronomy-- so much so that we read space books before bed time. One of our books talks about Pluto's orbit crossing over Neptune's orbit and will be (or is) closer to the ...
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1answer
2k views

How do we know the temperature on the planets?

I was watching a show and they were saying that the temperature of Pluto (I know it is not a planet) is about -300 degrees. I know that depends where in the orbit Pluto is, but how do we determine ...
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461 views

Are planetary orbits measured from the Sun's surface or centre?

I would imagine planetary orbits are measured from the Sun's centre and not its surface. Is that true? I can't find anywhere that actually states this.
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Why can't Jupiter be seen over Thanksgiving break?

As of these past few days, Jupiter can be seen in the sky, correct? Around Thanksgiving, why can't it be seen?
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207 views

Is water necessary for forming the sedimentary rocks found on Mars' surface?

So, I've just been reading a recent ScienceDaily article, and came across this interesting quote "Clays form in more neutral, less acidic conditions than the sulfate-rich sandstones we've been ...
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488 views

Could there be a body of water the size of a planet?

My friend and I were reading the news of the discovery of a black hole spewing huge amounts of water vapor into space, and it got us thinking: could there be a blob of liquid water in space the size ...
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4answers
7k views

Are there planets that do not rotate on their axis?

I was reading a thread about how a pendulum would be affected if the Earth did not rotate and Larian's answer made me wonder if all planets rotate necessarily due to physics. So that's the question: ...
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172 views

Axial Tilt and precession rate of exoplanets

The Earth's axis is 23.5 degrees away from othogonality to the ecliptic, and it takes about 26 000 years for it to precess fully. I have neither an intuitive sense nor the formula for precession ...
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45 views

Are there Trojan family or Hilda family satellites locked in Earth's orbit?

Jupiter has many Trojan asteroids located at Lagrangian points L4 and L5 and Hilda asteroids dispersed between points L3, L4, and L5. Does the Earth have similar satellites? If so, how many?
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How did the radiative flux of each gas giant planet change with respect to time (since their formation)?

We know that each gas giant planet was warmest when it was young. This warmth came from internal heating from both radioactive decay and from gravitational potential energy. This warmth, in turn, ...
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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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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 ...
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The collision of Phobos [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: the 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 ...
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1answer
2k views

How do we determine what distant planets, stars etc are made of?

I remember this being covered somewhat back in school and I have casually read about it. I know it involves inferring from spectral analysis what physical properties an object may have right? Though ...
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3answers
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What is the irregularity in Uranus' orbit that is caused by Neptune?

I carefully read the Wikipedia article Discovery of Neptune, and I don't get what the irregularity of Uranus orbit was that lead to the discovery of Neptune. Years ago, I watched some educational film ...
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1answer
173 views

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?
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Is a water world possible, and for how long could it be stable?

I have several questions regarding this topic. First, could a water world be stable for thousands of years with most of its surface remaining covered in water. What would it take for this to be ...
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1answer
984 views

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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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 ...