Uniform circular motion can be described as the motion of an object in a circle at a constant speed. As an object moves in a circle, it is constantly changing its direction. At all instances, the object is moving tangent to the circle. Since the direction of the velocity vector is the same as the direction of the object's motion, the velocity vector is directed tangent to the circle as well. The animation at the right depicts this by means of a vector arrow.
An object moving in a circle is accelerating. Accelerating objects are objects which are changing their velocity - either the speed (i.e., magnitude of the velocity vector) or the direction. An object undergoing uniform circular motion is moving with a constant speed. Nonetheless, it is accelerating due to its change in direction. The direction of the acceleration is inwards. The animation at the right depicts this by means of a vector arrow.
The final motion characteristic for an object undergoing uniform circular motion is the net force. The net force acting upon such an object is directed towards the center of the circle. The net force is said to be an inward or centripetalforce. Without such an inward force, an object would continue in a straight line, never deviating from its direction. Yet, with the inward net force directed perpendicular to the velocity vector, the object is always changing its direction and undergoing an inward acceleration.
Kepler's laws of planetary motion are three scientific laws describing motion of planets around the Sun.
Figure 1: Illustration of Kepler's three laws with two planetary orbits.
(1) The orbits are ellipses, with focal points ƒ1 and ƒ2 for the first planet and ƒ1 and ƒ3 for the second planet. The Sun is placed in focal point ƒ1.
(2) The two shaded sectors A1 and A2 have the same surface area and the time for planet 1 to cover segment A1is equal to the time to cover segment A2.
(3) The total orbit times for planet 1 and planet 2 have a ratio a13/2 : a23/2.
Kepler's laws are:
- The orbit of every planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci.
- A line joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time.
- The square of the orbital period of a planet is proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit.
Kepler's first law -
LAW OF ELLIPSES. sometimes referred to as the law of ellipses - explains that planets are orbiting the sun in a path described as an ellipse. An ellipse can easily be constructed using a pencil, two tacks, a string, a sheet of paper and a piece of cardboard. Tack the sheet of paper to the cardboard using the two tacks. Then tie the string into a loop and wrap the loop around the two tacks. Take your pencil and pull the string until the pencil and two tacks make a triangle (see diagram at the right). Then begin to trace out a path with the pencil, keeping the string wrapped tightly around the tacks. The resulting shape will be an ellipse. An ellipse is a special curve in which the sum of the distances from every point on the curve to two other points is a constant. The two other points (represented here by the tack locations) are known as the foci of the ellipse. The closer together that these points are, the more closely that the ellipse resembles the shape of a circle. In fact, a circle is the special case of an ellipse in which the two foci are at the same location. Kepler's first law is rather simple - all planets orbit the sun in a path that resembles an ellipse, with the sun being located at one of the foci of that ellipse.
Kepler's second law
LAW OF EQUAL AREAS- sometimes referred to as the law of equal areas - describes the speed at which any given planet will move while orbiting the sun. The speed at which any planet moves through space is constantly changing. A planet moves fastest when it is closest to the sun and slowest when it is furthest from the sun. Yet, if an imaginary line were drawn from the center of the planet to the center of the sun, that line would sweep out the same area in equal periods of time. For instance, if an imaginary line were drawn from the earth to the sun, then the area swept out by the line in every 31-day month would be the same. This is depicted in the diagram below. As can be observed in the diagram, the areas formed when the earth is closest to the sun can be approximated as a wide but short triangle; whereas the areas formed when the earth is farthest from the sun can be approximated as a narrow but long triangle. These areas are the same size. Since the base of these triangles are shortest when the earth is farthest from the sun, the earth would have to be moving more slowly in order for this imaginary area to be the same size as when the earth is closest to the sun.
Kepler's third law
HARMONIC LAW - sometimes referred to as the law of harmonies - compares the orbital period and radius of orbit of a planet to those of other planets. Unlike Kepler's first and second laws that describe the motion characteristics of a single planet, the third law makes a comparison between the motion characteristics of different planets. The comparison being made is that the ratio of the squares of the periods to the cubes of their average distances from the sun is the same for every one of the planets. As an illustration, consider the orbital period and average distance from sun (orbital radius) for Earth and mars as given in the table below.
Isaac Newton compared the acceleration of the moon to the acceleration of objects on earth. Believing that gravitational forces were responsible for each, Newton was able to draw an important conclusion about the dependence of gravity upon distance. This comparison led him to conclude that the force of gravitational attraction between the Earth and other objects is inversely proportional to the distance separating the earth's center from the object's center. But distance is not the only variable affecting the magnitude of a gravitational force. Consider Newton's famous equation
Fnet = m • aNewton knew that the force that caused the apple's acceleration (gravity) must be dependent upon the mass of the apple. And since the force acting to cause the apple's downward acceleration also causes the earth's upward acceleration (Newton's third law), that force must also depend upon the mass of the earth. So for Newton, the force of gravity acting between the earth and any other object is directly proportional to the mass of the earth, directly proportional to the mass of the object, and inversely proportional to the square of the distance that separates the centers of the earth and the object.
But Newton's law of universal gravitation extends gravity beyond earth. Newton's law of universal gravitation is about the universality of gravity. Newton's place in the Gravity Hall of Fame is not due to his discovery of gravity, but rather due to his discovery that gravitation is universal. ALL objects attract each other with a force of gravitational attraction. Gravity is universal. This force of gravitational attraction is directly dependent upon the masses of both objects and inversely proportional to the square of the distance that separates their centers. Newton's conclusion about the magnitude of gravitational forces is summarized symbolically as