Celestial Mechanics

Celestial mechanics is a division of astronomy dealing with the motions and gravitational effects of celestial objects. The field has application of physics, to astronomical objects such as stars and planets.

Celestial mechanics is about calculating orbital elements for planets and such and predicting their future positions.

The "golden age" of celestial mechanics began in the 17th century with Galileo, Kepler and Newton.

The Ancient Greeks developed theories regarding celestial mechanics, most of which were geocentric in nature.

Johannes Kepler was the first to develop laws of orbits, which he did by examining and cataloging the motion of the planets. Johannes Kepler was the first to successfully model planetary orbits to a high degree of accuracy.

Isaac Newton is credited with introducing the idea that the motion of objects in the heavens, such as planets, the Sun, and the Moon, and the motion of objects on the ground, like horses and falling apples, could be described by the same set of physical laws. In this sense he unified 'celestial' and 'terrestrial' dynamics.

After Einstein explained the anomalous precession of Mercury's perihelion, astronomers recognized that Newtonian mechanics did not provide the highest accuracy.

celestial orbit - this is usually an elliptical path described by one celestial body in its revolution about another.

celestial pole - Either of two diametrically opposite points at which the extensions of the earth's axis intersect the celestial sphere.

celestial sphere - An imaginary sphere of infinite extent with the earth at its center on which the stars, planets, and other heavenly bodies appear to be located.

Related Links


• Celestial Calendar for 2019

• Geocentric Ephemeris for the day