Title

Using retrograde motion to understand and determine orbital parameters

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-1-2005

Abstract

The path of a planet on the celestial sphere when undergoing retrograde motion has a rich variety of forms that depend on the shape and orientation of its orbit and the timing of its opposition with the Earth. The observation of many retrograde paths can be used to determine the parameters of an external tilted elliptical orbit using only geometry and trigonometry. This approach fosters understanding of the geometrical significance of the orbital parameters and their role in determining the path Of the planet on the celestial sphere. © 2005 American Association of Physics Teachers.

Publication Name

American Journal of Physics

Volume Number

73

First Page

1023

Last Page

1029

Issue Number

11

DOI

10.1119/1.2043149

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