Kepler's laws of planetary motion1
Kepler's laws of planetary motion
Figure 1: Illustration of Kepler's three laws with two planetary orbits. (1) Theorbits are ellipses, with focal points
for the first planet and
for thesecond planet. The Sun is placed in focal point
. (2) The two shaded sectors
have the same surface area and the time for planet 1 to cover segment
isequal to the time to cover segment
. (3) The total orbit times for planet 1 andplanet 2 have a ratio
Kepler's laws of planetarymotion
are three scientific laws describingorbital motion, each giving a description of the motion of planets around the Sun.Kepler's laws are:1.The orbit of every planet is an ellipsewith the Sun at one of the two foci.2.A line joining a planet and the Sunsweeps out equal areas during equalintervals of time.
3.The square of the orbital period of aplanet is directly proportional to the cubeof the semi-major axis of its orbit.
Johannes Kepler published his first two lawsin 1609, having found them by analyzing theastronomical observations of TychoBrahe.
Kepler discovered his third lawmany years later, and it was published in1619.
At the time, Kepler's laws wereradical claims; the prevailing belief (particularly in epicycle-based theories) was that orbits should be based onperfect circles. Most of the planetary orbits can be rather closely approximated as circles, so it is not immediatelyevident that the orbits are ellipses. Detailed calculations for the orbit of the planet Mars first indicated to Kepler itselliptical shape, and he inferred that other heavenly bodies, including those farther away from the Sun, have ellipticalorbits too. Kepler's laws and his analysis of the observations on which they were based, the assertion that the Earthorbited the Sun, proof that the planets' speeds varied, and use of elliptical orbits rather than circular orbits withepicycles
challenged the long-accepted geocentric models of Aristotle and Ptolemy, and generally supported theheliocentric theory of Nicolaus Copernicus (although Kepler's ellipses likewise did away with Copernicus's circularorbits and epicycles).
Some eight decades later, Isaac Newton proved that relationships like Kepler's would apply exactly under certainideal conditions that are to a good approximation fulfilled in the solar system, as consequences of Newton's ownlaws of motion and law of universal gravitation.
Because of the nonzero planetary masses and resultingperturbations, Kepler's laws apply only approximately and not exactly to the motions in the solar system.
Eléments de la philosophie de Newton
Elements of Newton's Philosophy
) was in 1738 the first publicationto call Kepler's Laws "laws".
Together with Newton's mathematical theories, they are part of the foundation of modern astronomy and physics.