Orbital Dynamics, Fall 2002

ASTR450 Course Description

The solar system is a very dynamic place. The planets orbit the Sun along elliptical orbits but, on longer timescales, their orbits oscillate and precess -- some chaotically -- due to mutual gravitational perturbations. Asteroids are perturbed by resonant forces onto orbits which cross the Earth's orbit; occasionally these objects strike our planet with deadly consequences. Jupiter tosses some comets into the Sun and ejects others from the solar system. Planets can also capture comets as temporary moons; some escape again while others are less lucky (like Shoemaker-Levy 9 which crashed into Jupiter in 1994). Ocean tides raised by the Moon are increasing the Earth-Moon distance by 3.7cm/year, thereby causing the length of our day to slowly increase. The same effect has driven the moons of Jupiter into resonance with one another, generating enough heat to power Io's volcanos. In Orbital Dynamics (ASTR450), we will study these and other important orbital phenomena. The course will emphasize analytical calculations, numerical simulations, and computer programming techniques. The prerequisites for ASTR450 are: (ASTR121 or ASTR 200) and (PHYS 273 or PHY 263).

Some Topics that we will cover in this class:

Web Site:

Grading Policy:

The grading for the class will be according to the following table.


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Last modified: Tue Sep 3 11:14:45 2002