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Astronomy

Keplers Laws Page 1 of 4

Name _____________________________________ Date __________________ Period ________


KEPLERS THREE LAWS OF PLANETARY MOTION

focus

focus

perihelion

aphelion
semimajor axis

Note: This figure is exaggerated to show the features of an elliptical orbit around the Sun.

Keplers First Law


The orbit of each planet around the Sun is an _______________, with the Sun at one ___________.
In other words, this law tells us that a planets distance from the Sun changes during its orbit. It is closest at the
point called _______________ and farthest at the point called _______________.
Keplers Second Law
As a planet moves about its orbit, __________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________.
A consequence of this law is that a planet travels _______________ when it is closer to the Sun and
_______________ when it is farther from the Sun.
Keplers Third Law
More distant planets orbit the Sun at _______________ average speeds, obeying a precise
mathematical relationship.
We write this relationship as p2 = a3 , where p is the planets _________________________ in years and
a is its _______________ from the Sun in astronomical units (au).
1 au = ___________________ km ( = ___________________ miles)

Astronomy

Keplers Laws Page 2 of 4

Complete the table by calculating the orbital period for each of the planets listed.
Show one example of your calculation below.
Planet

Average distance from Sun (au)

Mercury

0.387

Venus

0.723

Earth

1.00

Mars

1.52

Jupiter

5.20

Saturn

9.54

Uranus

19.2

Neptune

30.1

Orbital period (years)

Astronomy

Keplers Laws Page 3 of 4

Graph the orbital period (on the vertical axis) versus the average distance from the Sun (on the horizontal axis).

Astronomy

Keplers Laws Page 4 of 4

1000

100

10

0.1
0.1

10

100