Orbital motion and the natural laws that cause it can be illustrated by the behavior of our nearest astronomical neighbor, the Moon. The Moon revolves around the center of mass of the Earth- Moon system in an elliptical orbit with a period of one sidereal month. The proximity of the Moon to the Earth and the shortness of its orbital period make it possible to deduce the basic character of its orbit. Even more can be obtained by careful study, since the Moon’s orbit is further complicated mainly, though not exclusively, by the circumstance that it is in a three-body system. The Sun is the principal perturber of the lunar orbit; two of the other sources of perturbations are the nonspherical shape of the Earth and the gravitational attraction of the other planets.
KeywordsOrbital Plane Photographic Image Lunar Orbit Angular Diameter Moon System
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