Questions tagged [celestial-mechanics]

Questions regarding the motions of celestial objects.

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What causes the short term variation in the length of a march-equinox year

By a "march-equinox year" I mean the time between successive march/vernal equinoxes. I understand that this is different from the mean tropical year, and I also understand why this would be ...
3 votes
1 answer
140 views

Is the Moon really oscillating around its orbit as seen from Earth?

While simulating today's eclipse, I see something I have never noticed or learnt: Stellarium shows an oscillation of the Moon's trajectory around its orbit as seen from Earth. Is it real or a ...
7 votes
2 answers
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How can Earth-Sun Lagrange points L1 & L2 even be semi stable considering the moon?

I know that the Earth-Sun Lagrange L1, L2, and L3 points are not considered stable over longer periods, especially when compared to L4 and L5... But, with the moon orbiting the Earth in the general ...
8 votes
3 answers
3k views

Would be possible to detect Planet Nine as a microlensing event along the line of its projected orbit?

Theoretically proposed by Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown (@Caltech), Planet Nine could have a mass of $\sim 6.3 \pm 2 M_{\oplus}$. Even though I don't know if the hypothesis is still feasible at ...
1 vote
0 answers
51 views

How is the amount and direction of the Sun's axial tilt as observed from other planets calculated?

Not long ago I asked this question; turns out that was fairly simple to figure out given the equatorial coordinates of the Sun's north pole (just convert to ecliptic coordinates, and see when the Sun ...
2 votes
1 answer
95 views

Why do these two sources list different values for the Solar axial tilt to the ecliptic and Earth's orbital inclination to the Solar equator?

On the Wikipedia article for axial tilt the Solar axial tilt is listed as 7.25° to the ecliptic, whereas on the Wikipedia article of orbital inclination Earth is listed as having an orbital ...
1 vote
0 answers
50 views

Looking for data and models for events of Sun and Moon apparent motion in distant past?

For the current Julian Era (from 1, 1, 4713 BCE to modern day), I am looking for a raw data tables or a model that allows to predict the following events related to apparent motion of Sun and Moon: ...
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

Accuracy of calculating the vernal equinox?

Calculating the exact time of the vernal equinox is essential for many ephemeris calculations. NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies uses (at least for some purposes) the following, rather short ...
2 votes
1 answer
118 views

Hierarchy of gravitational interactions of astronomical objects: from single to large-scale structures

Hierarchical structure is clearly visible in the Universe. The "observable universe" includes almost empty voids, between which lie large cosmic filaments. The filaments consist of galactic ...
2 votes
1 answer
255 views

How to convert TEME (or ITRF) to horizontal

I have TEME coordinates from sgp4 propagation. I can convert those (in python) to ITRF given date and time of observation. How to convert coordinates from one of those two frames to horizontal azimuth ...
4 votes
2 answers
553 views

How is Earth's Rotation Angle (ERA) defined and measured

UTC typically ticks with TAI. But to keep UTC from drifting far from the rotation angle of the Earth we occasionally add leap seconds to ensure that UTC does not drift too far from the UT1 timescale. ...
39 votes
3 answers
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Is Venus in some way tidally locked to... Earth?

The video here demonstrates how Earth sees the same face of Venus every inferior conjunction (i.e., two planets are the closest to each other): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m_ouMC61-w (or https://...
3 votes
3 answers
226 views

Will all satellites get inevitably tidally locked to their planet?

Are there cases or conditions in which an object orbiting another one (e.g. a satellite and its planet) does not get tidally locked to it? For example, in this question, it is mentioned that a large ...
2 votes
1 answer
126 views

What is the difference between SPICE kernels and JPL Development Ephemerides? Is a DE just a bunch of kernels on a string?

My imposter syndrome is acting up again after I posted several comments under: What is the mathematics needed for understanding DE440 and translating it into xyz coordinates? Now I feel like I don't ...
2 votes
1 answer
170 views

What is the mathematics needed for understanding DE440 and translating it into xyz coordinates?

I would like to write my own code to process NASA's DE440/DE441 ephemerides, but I do not know the mathematics needed to do this. I understand packages such as pyephem have implemented variations of ...
4 votes
1 answer
1k views

Do all the planets travel along the same constellations?

If humans ever moved to another planet in this solar-system, what constellations would the sun meet from that perspective? What constellations would the sun look like it is meeting from the ...
2 votes
0 answers
122 views

Code for Gauss's method orbit determination

I'm trying to calculate the state vectors of the ISS using Gauss's method with three sets of values (right ascension, declination and sidereal time). I'm following the method described in "...
2 votes
1 answer
89 views

largest balanced mass objects in Earth's L4 & L5 Lagrange points?

What is the largest single-object mass that would allow two objects of equal mass to have a stable orbit, one each, in Earth's L4 and L5 Lagrange points?
1 vote
1 answer
113 views

Calculate declination of Galactic N. Pole given obliquity of Ecliptic, rt. ascension of Galactic N. Pole, & angle between Galactic & Ecliptic Pole

I’m trying to back-calculate a value in astronomy using spherical trigonometry. (This is not a homework problem, I'm retired). Using the following formula, where δ = the Declination of the Galactic ...
3 votes
2 answers
610 views

How to find zero velocity contours for circular restricted 3-body problem in x-y plane?

(I am having physics background; I am not an astronomer/astrophysicist.) How to solve a single nonlinear algebraic equation in two variables, $x$ and $y$? (I know that - if there are two variables, ...
1 vote
3 answers
1k views

Do the inner-Earth planets actually align with the constellations we see?

For example, because the Sun is the center of the solar system; when we think that the Sun is on the constellation of Aries, in actuality, isn't Earth lining up with the constellation opposite Aries: ...
6 votes
3 answers
1k views

Open source code for the maths behind a heliostat?

Theoretically, using a Raspberry Pi, (at least) one mirror, and two motors, one should be able to build a heliostat, i.e. a device which redirects sunlight to a fixed spot, like a scrub in the shadow ...
5 votes
0 answers
202 views

Different techniques for calculation of celestial bodies dynamics with different time-scales

Differential equations describing the dynamics of celestial bodies (rotation, nutation, precession and other effects) can be solved numerically, which makes it possible to study their general non-...
2 votes
1 answer
56 views

What stars are brighter then any star nearer to the south celestial pole [closed]

What stars are brighter (apparent magnitude) then any star nearer to the south celestial pole? I know that there’s no bright star within a few degrees of the south celestial pole.
3 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why does the Sun track out a seemingly sinusoidal path on the celestial sphere?

The question arose because I wanted to understand the path of the ecliptic after reading about it here: https://johnlucey.webspace.durham.ac.uk/users/solar-year/ Is the sinusoidal path due to Earth’s ...
2 votes
0 answers
56 views

You find yourself on a random planet in the milky way 2000 years in the future. Can you figure out where/when you are? [duplicate]

Imagine you're on a planet in a distant part of the milky way, 2000 years from now. You don't know where you are or how much time has passed. You have access to modern astronomical data and technology ...
1 vote
1 answer
177 views

What is the horizon-ecliptic angle formula?

For an observer in a city with latitude 35°, at what sidereal time is the angle that the ecliptic makes with the horizon equal to the angle that the equator makes with the horizon? What is the angular ...
14 votes
5 answers
2k views

Is there any way for a planet orbiting a red dwarf in the habitable zone to not be tidally locked?

Is there any way to avoid the tidal locking of a planet orbiting a red dwarf in the habitable zone? For example, could a planet with a 90° obliquity and large moon avoid such a situation?
8 votes
1 answer
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How does the Sun orbit the Sun-Jupiter Barycenter?

I got the Orbital Elements of Jupiter around the Sun, which describe how it orbits relative to the "fix" Sun. Jupiter Semi Major Axis (AU): 5.20336301 Eccentricity: 0.04839266 Inclination to ...
5 votes
0 answers
133 views

Positional astronomy - Speed of the sun in sky

Let $\vec{r}$ be the position of the Sun in the sky, from Earth. How could I estimate the magnitude of $d\vec{r}/dt$, to measure the rate of change in time of the arc it traces? I suppose it would be ...
3 votes
1 answer
160 views

calculating MPC orbital uncertainty parameter U

I'm trying to understand how the orbital uncertainty parameter 'U' introduced by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) is actually calculated for minor bodies. This wikipedia page gives the formulae to be ...
4 votes
3 answers
154 views

Orbital terminology for satellites relative to one another

Basic question, but I'm trying to describe a planetary system and coming up short on vocabulary. Do either of the following exist?: A word for the closest pass between two satellites orbiting the ...
1 vote
1 answer
141 views

Celestial Coordinates and Sun's degrees below horizon

I am struggling to understand the how the coordinates work. Example: At vernal equinox RA=0 DEC=0, Does this mean the Sun is at its highest point at the equator? If my mean solar time is 2h 30min, ...
5 votes
1 answer
258 views

Explanation about the resonance, mean motion resonance and libration

I am studying for a project the dynamics of multi-planetary system in resonance. I have two questions about this domain. In many articles they speak about 'mean motion resonance', what is the ...
3 votes
2 answers
179 views

constant semi-major axes of the planets

in Numerical Expressions for Precession Formulae And Mean Elements for the Moon And the Planets (Simon et al., 1994), the orbital elements of the planets are given for long time durations. The semi-...
1 vote
1 answer
69 views

different corresponding coefficients in formulae for a mean element

why do they take λ₁ = 1 295 977 422.834 29ʺ from subsection 5.8.3.¹ (mean elements referred to the mean dynamical ecliptic and equinox J2000), and not λ₁ = 1 296 027 711.034 29ʺ from subsection 5.9.3.¹...
8 votes
3 answers
2k views

Implementation of formulae for Meeus for the Moon

With Astronomical Algorithms by J. Meeus (1998) I have obtained the relevant illuminated fraction of the disk and position angle. But they're numbers (all Greek to me!) I know, Meeus explains that ...
4 votes
1 answer
301 views

North Stars of each Solar system planet?

What are the North Stars of each individual body points too? E.g. Earth points to Polaris. Mars points to Deneb/Alpha Cygni. What about Sun, Mercury, Venus, Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, ...
1 vote
2 answers
218 views

How to calculate the local time of sunrise and azimuth of rising point of Sirius?

I know that right ascension equals to $6^h45^m$ and declination equals to $-16°43'$. I need to calculate local time of sunrise and azimuth of rising point of Sirius on 23 of September for an ...
2 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why temperature of dark side of moon is not 3 Kelvin

The temperature of the space between Earth and the Moon is around 3 Kelvin ($\approx -270^\circ {\rm C}$). The moon has no atmosphere, therefore the heat convection is not possible from the bright ...
25 votes
2 answers
3k views

How can Io be tidally heated while it is in tidal lock?

According to its Wikipedia page: Rotation period: synchronous Eccentricity: 0.0041 But also ...extreme geologic activity is the result of tidal heating... How is it possible? It should not be ...
-3 votes
2 answers
374 views

What pulls the Sun above the galactic plane and pulls it below the galactic plane?

Since the sun climbs above the galactic plane and it even dives below the galactic plane we can't deny that it wouldn't climb upward unless there is something above the galactic plane that pulls it ...
27 votes
2 answers
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Where do we have it from that the Moon is migrating away from Earth?

I know Neil Armstrong placed a mirror on the Moon and people shoot lasers there which get reflected, thus measuring the time the light needs they can conclude the current distance of the Moon. But the ...
1 vote
2 answers
1k views

Two body orbit of equal masses

Given two bodies of equal mass in an elliptical orbit: I know they will be orbiting about a common center of mass, i.e. the barycenter. But, do the velocities have to be equal in magnitude and ...
6 votes
1 answer
3k views

How to calculate the altitude of a star given the hour angle, declination, and latitude?

I'm trying to find the altitude of a star for observing, but all I have is the hour angle and declination of the star, along with latitude of the location I'm observing from. How can I find the ...
11 votes
3 answers
2k views

What's the meaning of virial in Astronomy, and in particular the expression "a virialized cluster of galaxies"?

The virial theorem relates the kinetic energy of a system to the total potential energy of the system: $ \Delta K = -\frac{1}{2}\Delta V $ so it has lots of uses in mechanics, thermodynamics and ...
1 vote
1 answer
260 views

Schmidt corrector plate on a Newtonian = Schmidt Cassegrain?

Went on with a wide range of telescopes and its mechanics. To my understanding, the only change in the optical function in Schmidt Cassegrain telescope is a Schmidt's corrector plate in front of an ...
1 vote
0 answers
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Why is Earth at centre of Celestial Sphere?

Why do we consider Earth to be at the centre for Celestial Sphere ? If so, then how will Sun revolve around Earth ? Doesn't it mean its like the geocentric model ?
3 votes
1 answer
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Querying MPC data : P and Q vectors of any use to compute the eccentricity vector?

While querying the Minor Planet Center orbital data for asteroids, among the returned data, I noticed 6 variables corresponding to x,y and z components of two 3-D vectors namely P and Q. The ...
3 votes
1 answer
114 views

Can you compute the solar day?

For a given planet, if you know the sidereal rotation period and the sidereal revolution period, can you compute the length of one solar day? For instance, for Earth, if you know one rotation is ...