Questions tagged [orbit]

Questions regarding an object 'falling around' another object, due to a combination of gravity and momentum.

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70
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6answers
10k views

Why is only one side of the Moon visible from Earth?

Why do we only ever see the same side of the moon? If this is to do with gravity are there any variables which mean we might one day see more than we have before?
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2answers
15k views

Is it possible to achieve a stable “lunarstationary” orbit around the moon?

Is there a stable geostationary orbit around the moon? My feeling is, that the orbit would collide with earth, because of the moon's slow rotation.
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3answers
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Does the Milky Way orbit around anything?

We know most of the objects in the Universe have a spherical or elliptical shape. The object which has less mass and gravitational pull orbits around the nearest object with more mass and ...
33
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1answer
8k views

Why do the planets in our solar system orbit in the same plane?

(Yes I'm excluding Pluto from this the same way it was excluded for not being a planet) Observing the planets orbit of the Sun they all seem relatively planar and roughly all orbit along the same ...
31
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2answers
5k views

Is there any known moon of a moon? [duplicate]

As far as I understand, a moon is an object in permanent orbit around a planet, dwarf-planet, asteroid, etc. If there was another object permanently orbiting this moon, would that be a moon-moon? Is ...
30
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3answers
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Pluto's orbit overlaps Neptune's, does this mean Pluto will hit Neptune sometime?

We know that the orbits of Pluto and Neptune overlap. This means that pluto sometimes crosses the orbit of Neptune; will Pluto hit Neptune in any circumstance?
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3answers
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Why are there so many binary systems?

Most star systems are binary, but why is that? Why would new stars form close to others, and not (relatively) evenly spread? And even if they are clustered close together, why are the majority binary? ...
27
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1answer
3k views

Why do satellites arcs end abruptly when observed from Earth

I recently got an app that let me track the ISS. I noticed that during the time it's visible, it disappears before reaching the horizon, and sometimes reappears soon after for a bit. Can somebody ...
26
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2answers
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Why do the planets orbit in the same direction?

Theoretically, planets would have an approximately equal chance of going one way in their orbit or another but in reality, this is not the case (at least in our solar system). Why is this?
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9answers
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Simple experimental evidence that Earth revolves around Sun

What are the simplest experiments or calculations that give evidence that the earth revolves around the sun? Can you please explain them and reference the history? Many simple explanations such as ...
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7answers
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If the Moon were impacted by a suitably sized meteor, how long would it take to impact the Earth?

An answer to the question of How well would the Moon protect the Earth from a Meteor? mentions as a possibility that the Moon could get knocked into the Earth. What is the smallest change to the ...
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4answers
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Is there a upper limit to the number of planets orbiting a star?

Our sun has 8 planets orbiting as well as a number of dwarf planets. Are there any calculations that hint as to whether this number is close to some theoretical maximum value or are we simply an ...
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5answers
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What makes protoplanetary disks start rotating? (Initial energy needed to rotate)

Planets form from a protoplanetary disk that has been rotating around its star. The initial energy that makes them rotate really matters to me. Why did the protoplanetary disk start rotating around ...
23
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6answers
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Can a natural satellite exist in a geostationary orbit?

While browsing through Physics SE, I noticed a question about satellites in geostationary orbit (unrelated to the one I'm asking here), and for a moment I interpreted it as referring to natural ...
23
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2answers
7k views

How did Kepler “guess” his third law from data?

It is amazing that Kepler determined his three laws by looking at data, without a calculator and using only pen and paper. It is conceivable how he proved his laws described the data after he had ...
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3answers
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When did people first measure that the Earth was closest to the Sun during January?

When we talk about the reason for the seasons, we usually have to dispel the misconception that seasons are caused by being close and far away in the Earth's elliptical orbit. And usually, we ...
22
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1answer
594 views

How stable are Lissajous orbits?

Now that the Gaia Space Telescope is on it's way to the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrangian point (SEL2), I start wondering about the stability of Gaia's orbit there. The Planck Telescope is already there, as was ...
20
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4answers
6k views

If suddenly “knocked” or perturbed from its orbit, would gravity eventually return the Earth to its original orbit?

If suddenly "knocked" or perturbed from its orbit, would gravity eventually return the Earth to its original orbit? I am curious as to whether this is even possible. It seems to me that ...
20
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5answers
5k views

Was the Geocentric Model correct at all?

It's easy to find resources stating that the heliocentric model is right and geocentric is wrong. But how wrong was it? Was it correct in any way? It was built on incorrect assumptions, but despite ...
20
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3answers
4k views

Does anything orbit the Sun faster than Mercury?

Mercury's orbital period around the Sun is about 88 days. Comets and other things have gotten closer to the Sun than Mercury does. But has there ever been an asteroid or some other body discovered ...
20
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2answers
32k views

What is the distance that the Moon travels during one orbit around the Earth?

Also, does it always take the same amount of time, or does it fractionally differ on each revolution?
20
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1answer
988 views

Is Earth's orbital eccentricity enough to cause even minor seasons, without axial tilt?

I was reading the answers to this question about an exoplanet having seasons without axial tilt, and several responders mention that orbital eccentricity could cause a similar effect, but that the ...
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3answers
5k views

How do you call it when two celestial bodies come as close to each other as they will in their current orbits?

On Earth, we say Mars is in opposition when it is 180º from the Sun, which also marks the times when Mars and Earth come closest to each other. Is there a specific name for such proximity events? For ...
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2answers
3k views

Why does the Earth have a z-component at the start of the J2000 epoch?

When I go to the NASA HORIZONS webpage https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/horizons.cgi and ask for the VECTOR coordinates of the Earth on 1 January 2000, it tells me that Earth has the following coordinates ...
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4answers
3k views

Why are orbits elliptical instead of circular?

Why do planets rotate around a star in a specific elliptical orbit with the star at one of it's foci? Why isn't the orbit a circle?
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4answers
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Is there any point on earth where the moon stays below the horizon for an extended period of time?

When I was teaching a class why the earth has seasons today, I mentioned how the poles of the earth experience months of daylight and darkness. Then one of my students asked whether the moon ...
19
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1answer
1k views

How do/did we figure out that planets move in orbits?

I've learned that planets move in orbits around the Sun, but I really don't know how I would come to this conclusion myself. I've only seen planets in the sky a couple times (knowingly), and I am ...
18
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7answers
9k views

Why doesn't Earth's axis change during the year?

My understanding is that the Earth's axis points in the same direction in space during its entire orbit around the sun. And this is what causes our seasons. My question is why doesn't the axis follow ...
18
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2answers
4k views

Why is the Moon receding from the Earth due to tides? Is this typical for other moons?

After reading the Q&A Is the moon moving further away from Earth and closer to the Sun? Why? about the tides transferring energy to the Moon and pushing it from Earth, I have a question: How is ...
18
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4answers
936 views

What are the odds that the Sun hits another star?

The Sun moves around the Milky Way disk in the same direction as most of the other stars in our galaxy (prograde). But there are a number of older stars in the galactic halo that move in retrograde ...
18
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2answers
574 views

Moon orbits crossing each other

Some planets, such as Mars, have 2 or more moons. Giants, like Jupiter of Saturn have a lot of moons! How likely the orbit of one crosses another one's orbit? Is it possible for two moons to collide? ...
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5answers
3k views

When will all eight planets in our solar system align?

Ignoring expansion of the universe, entropy, decaying orbits, and interference from any bodies colliding with or otherwise interfering with their orbits, will the eight planets known planets in our ...
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1answer
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The newly discovered comet NEOWISE has been given the name C/2020 F3. What is the meaning of the F3 and the C in this name?

The new comet C/2020 F3 was first spotted by NASA's NEOWISE satellite in March 2020. It is now visible in the NE sky just before dawn. The C may refer to it's non-periodic nature (so far). What does ...
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6answers
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Why don't we have 2 Summers and 2 Winters?

Due to Earth's elliptical orbit, its distance from Sun varies by almost 5 million Kilometers (147 million Kilometers at closest point & 152 million Kilometers at farthest point, i.e. almost 3% of ...
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3answers
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What are “non-Keplerian” orbits? What are some familiar examples in our solar system, and can some still be closed?

This excellent answer to Forms of stellar orbits around the galactic center invokes the following concepts: non-Keplerian orbits closed orbits I have a fairly good idea what these mean and so might ...
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8answers
6k views

Moon's orbit around the Sun

The Earth revolves around the Sun and the Moon revolves around the Earth. Out of curiosity I started thinking about the orbit of the Moon around the Sun and expected (assumed) it to be as follows: ...
16
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1answer
4k views

Why is the solar system often shown as a 2D plane?

Whenever I have learned about the solar system I always see the orbits displayed as a virtually flat plane. Are all of the orbits in the solar system really like this? If so, why? It seems like a ...
16
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3answers
2k views

How does a gravity slingshot actually work?

From what I know of elliptical orbits, an object speeds up near the periapsis and slows down at the apoapsis, much like we learned in high school physics how a sphere would roll down and back up a ...
16
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1answer
390 views

Do planetary rings have geometric bounds?

Are there any bounds on where a planetary ring can form and maintain orbit relative to the planet? Do they have to be in a circular equatorial orbit? Is there a min or max altitude, say with respect ...
16
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2answers
2k views

Do the orbits of planets change sometimes?

Do planets sometimes wobble and get off their paths? What if an asteroid were to hit it?
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2answers
410 views

How was Io not torn apart by tidal forces during its formation?

Jupiter's moon Io is arguably one of the most volcanically active bodies in the Solar System. The reason, according to NASA's page Scientists to Io: Your Volcanoes Are in the Wrong Place is believed ...
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3answers
6k views

What if Earth and Moon revolved around each other like Pluto and Charon?

What would be different for us if Earth and Moon revolved around each other like Pluto and Charon do?
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3answers
3k views

How old is our Sun in Galactic years?

A year is measured as the amount of time it takes Earth to orbit the Sun once, a Galactic year is the time it takes our sun to make one full orbit of the center of the Galaxy. In Galactic years, how ...
15
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5answers
450 views

Orbiting around a black hole

Is it possible (for either a satellite or a planet) to orbit around a black hole? Do they attract everything around themselves into the center? Or they just affect gravitational force just like stars?
15
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1answer
443 views

Is it possible for a moon to orbit a planet floating free in the galaxy rather than orbiting a star

This article got me thinking, can a planet hold a moon in orbit if it is just floating in the galaxy by itself not as part of a star system? Can a celestial body even qualify as a planet if it is ...
15
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3answers
724 views

Is the rotation of the Sun and the rotation/orbit of the Moon around the Earth a coincidence?

While looking at sunspot information in connection with Amateur Radio, I found that the Sun rotates on a period from 27 days to 31 days. Its rotation is differential, at the equator it spins at a ...
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7answers
3k views

Does Sun have a reflection on Earth?

The new Google Maps1 presents an actual view of Earth, with the current position of Sun illuminating half part of Earth in real time. It is quite an exquisite view. My question is based on the ...
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3answers
1k 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?
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5answers
9k views

Does the gravity of the planets affect the orbit of other planets in our solar system?

When one planet passes near another during its trip around the sun, does their gravitational pull is strong enough to disrupt noticeably each other's orbit ?
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2answers
2k views

Is it possible to do moon sighting in advance for 5 years with 100% accuracy? [duplicate]

It is Ramzan and the usual heated disagreements between clerics here in Pakistan as to the sighting of the crescent. This time the minister of Science and Technology (who is not a scientist himself ...

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