A graph showing Kepler's 3rd law.
Click on image for full size
Kepler's 3rd Law: P2 = a3
law is a
mathematical formula. It means that if you know the period of a
planet's orbit (P = how long it takes the planet to go around the Sun),
then you can determine that planet's distance from the sun (a = the
semimajor axis of the planet's orbit), because P2
It also tells us that planets which are far away from the Sun have
longer periods than those close to the Sun. They move more slowly
around the Sun. Look at the formula: if you make the distance, a,
large, then P must also be large.
Check out the table of orbital data for the
planets. You will notice that the orbital period (P) of
the planets gets longer as you go from Mercury to Pluto.
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