A Space & astronomy forum. SpaceBanter.com

Go Back   Home » SpaceBanter.com forum » Space Science » Science
Site Map Home Authors List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Web Partners

Sun's position relative to the planets?



 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old July 14th 03, 01:59 PM
Matthew F Funke
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Sun's position relative to the planets?

I_am_on_Saturn wrote:
Is Sun positioned at the center of the elliptical orbits of all the
planets?


No. It lies at one of the foci of the elliptical orbits. To
describe the shape completely around the Sun, you need two numbers --
the nearest and farthest points, for example, or the distance across the
ellipse's major axis and the ellipse's eccentricity. (Describing the
*position* of that shape in space is somewhat more complex.)

If not so, what is the relative position of
Sun relative to all the planets?


It's massive enough to be considered the center of mass of the entire
Solar System -- but it doesn't lie at the center of the elliptical
orbits. The ellipses all have their perihelions (closest points to the
Sun) at different points around the Sun, and the planes in which they lie
are tilted with respect to one another.
--
-- With Best Regards,
Matthew Funke )
  #2  
Old July 14th 03, 02:20 PM
Greg D. Moore \(Strider\)
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Sun's position relative to the planets?


"I_am_on_Saturn" wrote in message
om...
Hi,

Is Sun positioned at the center of the elliptical orbits of all the
planets?


Keep in mind an ellipse has two "centers" positioned along the semi-major
axis.

The sun is at ONE of these centers.


If so, why would we have to define nearest and farthest
points of planet from Sun? If not so, what is the relative position of
Sun relative to all the planets?

I am trying to get the above information because I am building a Java
applet to show the Solar system and for the purpose of display, I need
to know the relative position of the Sun with respect to the planets.

Thank you for your time,
Saturn


  #4  
Old July 14th 03, 06:26 PM
Gordon D. Pusch
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Sun's position relative to the planets?

(I_am_on_Saturn) writes:

Is Sun positioned at the center of the elliptical orbits of all the
planets?


Depends on what you mean by "center." To a first approximation, if we can
neglect the mass of the planet compared to the Sun (see below), then the
Sun would be located at one of the two foci of the ellipse. Do a Google
search on the exact phrase "Kepler's laws" to find a huge number of references.


If so, why would we have to define nearest and farthest points of planet
from Sun?


Because the foci of an ellipse are "off ceneter" --- but note that since an
ellipse has both a "major" and a "minor" axis, even if the Sun _were_
located at the "center" (which it isn't!), one would _still_ have to
specify both axes (or equivalently and more commonly, the semimajor axis
and the eccentricity of the orbit).


If not so, what is the relative position of Sun relative to all the
planets?


Because of Newton's law of action and reaction (which gravity obeys),
it is located such that the Center of Mass of the Sun plus all the planets
and asteroids moves at a constant velocity. This means that, if we for the
moment neglect all the other planets in the solar system except Jupiter,
since Jupiter is about a thouasand times less massive than the Sun,
Jupiter and the Sun would both appear to execute elliptical orbit about
a point called the "barycenter" (a fancy word for "center of mass")
that is located a thousands times closer to the Sun than to Jupiter.
Since Jupiter's mean orbital radius is 776.5e6 km, while the Sun's
radius is about 6.96e5 km, the Sun-Jupiter "barycenter" is located
about 1/10 of a solar radius below the Sun's visible surface along
the line between the Sun and Jupiter --- but since the Sun is so small
compared to typical interplanetary distances, this "offset" would be hard
to obeserve without precision instruments.

The planet causing the next largest displacement of the Sun is Saturn.
Saturn is about 4,000 times less massive than the Sun, so the Sun-Saturn
barycenter is 4000 times closer to the Sun than to Saturn. Since Saturn's
mean orbital radius is about 1,434e6 km, so the Sun-Saturn barycenter is
about 1/2 a solar radius from the Sun's center. And so on.


I am trying to get the above information because I am building a Java
applet to show the Solar system and for the purpose of display, I need
to know the relative position of the Sun with respect to the planets.


There is no simple formula for computing this; one woould need to simulate
the gravitational forces between all the bodies in the solar system, which
is probably not practical unless your display consumes unreasonable amounts
of computing resources.

To a first approximation, you can compute the center of mass for the Sun
and all of the planets given the orbital elements and masses of the planets,
and then assume they all orbit a common barycenter to compute the relative
distance of the Sun from that barycenter.

However, in practice, the radius of the Sun is so small compared to the
radii of the planetary orbits that the displacement of the Sun from the
barycenter of the Solar System will be invisibly small unless the display
is zoomed in on the Sun.


-- Gordon D. Pusch

perl -e '$_ = \n"; s/NO\.//; s/SPAM\.//; print;'
  #5  
Old July 15th 03, 01:58 PM
Matthew F Funke
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Sun's position relative to the planets?

Greg D. Moore \(Strider\) wrote:
"I_am_on_Saturn" wrote:

Is Sun positioned at the center of the elliptical orbits of all the
planets?


Keep in mind an ellipse has two "centers" positioned along the semi-major
axis.

The sun is at ONE of these centers.


Thanks for putting "centers" in quotes. What Strider is referring to
are the *foci* of the ellipse. They are removed from the actual *center*
by a distance equal to one half of the major axis' length times the
eccentricity of the ellipse. For an ellipse that happens to be a perfect
circle, the foci and the center are the same point.
(The "eccentricity" is a measure of the "flatness" of the ellipse.
For ellipses, the eccentricity is a number between zero and one. The
larger the number, the more "squashed" the ellipse. An eccentricity of
zero gives a circle.)
--
-- With Best Regards,
Matthew Funke )
 




Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
If gravity is required, what are the planets in the SolarSystem? quilty Space Science Misc 11 April 23rd 04 04:59 PM
Centrifuge position on ISS PLP56 Space Station 2 August 6th 03 08:01 PM


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 10:58 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2004-2024 SpaceBanter.com.
The comments are property of their posters.