This is meant to be handed out to the students.
Kepler studied to be a Lutheran minister, but he was first employed as a high school math teacher and astronomer. He lived and worked in southern Germany and Prague. He lived between 1571 and 1630. He was one of the first astronomers to be totally converted to the ideas of Copernicus. He discovered three laws of planetary motion. Today you will just learn about the first.
Fill in the blanks in the following table. The ones that I have put in are known quantities. Do what is asked for in the column three and five for the planets. The unknown object, 1993 SB, was just discovered last month. Only fill in column three for it now. What do you notice about these two columns when you are done?
Planet Average Distance D^3 Orbital Period P^2 from Sun in in years au* = D = P Mercury .39 0.24 Venus .72 0.62 Earth 1.0 1.0 Mars 1.5 1.9 Jupiter 5.2 12 Saturn 9.5 29 1993 SB 33(*) 1 AU is an Astronomical Unit, the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
Now find the orbital period for the newly discovered object, 1993 SB.
Kepler's first law can be written as an equation. For the units we have used above, it is:
Important Disclaimers and Caveats