Celestial mechanics  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Celestial mechanics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the motions of celestial objects. The field applies principles of physics, historically classical mechanics, to astronomical objects such as stars and planets to produce ephemeris data. Orbital mechanics (astrodynamics) is a subfield which focuses on the orbits of artificial satellites. Lunar theory is another subfield focusing on the orbit of the Moon.


See also

  • Astrometry is a part of astronomy that deals with measuring the positions of stars and other celestial bodies, their distances and movements.
  • Astrodynamics is the study and creation of orbits, especially those of artificial satellites.
  • Celestial navigation is a position fixing technique that was the first system devised to help sailors locate themselves on a featureless ocean.
  • Gravitation
  • Numerical analysis is a branch of mathematics, pioneered by celestial mechanicians, for calculating approximate numerical answers (such as the position of a planet in the sky) which are too difficult to solve down to a general, exact formula.
  • Creating a numerical model of the solar system was the original goal of celestial mechanics, and has only been imperfectly achieved. It continues to motivate research.
  • An orbit is the path that an object makes, around another object, whilst under the influence of a source of centripetal force, such as gravity.
  • Orbital elements are the parameters needed to specify a Newtonian two-body orbit uniquely.
  • Osculating orbit is the temporary Keplerian orbit about a central body that an object would continue on, if other perturbations were not present.
  • Retrograde motion
  • Satellite is an object that orbits another object (known as its primary). The term is often used to describe an artificial satellite (as opposed to natural satellites, or moons). The common noun moon (not capitalized) is used to mean any natural satellite of the other planets.
  • Tidal force
  • The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Developmental Ephemeris (JPL DE) is a widely used model of the solar system, which combines celestial mechanics with numerical analysis and astronomical and spacecraft data.
  • Two solutions, called VSOP82 and VSOP87 are versions one mathematical theory for the orbits and positions of the major planets, which seeks to provide accurate positions over an extended period of time.
  • Lunar theory attempts to account for the motions of the Moon.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Celestial mechanics" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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