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 Celestial Mechanics (ASTR450), we will study these and other important orbital phenomena. The course will emphasize analytical calculations, numerical simulations, and computer programming techniques. The prerequisite for ASTR450 is Physics 410 or the consent of the instructor.

Some Topics that we will cover in ASTR450:

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Last modified: Wed Jan 29 18:51:28 1997