Methods of Orbit Determination

Methods of Orbit Determination

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By Dan Boulet.

Product Information: 6.00" by 9.00", 564 pages, hardbound.

This book describes how the principles of celestial mechanics may be applied to determine the orbits of planets, comets, and Earth satellites. More specifically, it shows how a dedicated novice can learn, by first-hand experience:

how orbital motion conforms to Newtonian physics
how a set of orbital elements can be translated into quantities which can be compared with observations, and
how a record of observed motion can be used to determine an orbit from scratch or improve a preliminary orbit.
Until recently, this exciting adventure with nature was beyond the reach of nearly all non-specialists. However the power of the microcomputer has swept away the drudgery of tedious calculations fraught with endless opportunities for careless error. With this book and a microcomputer the enthusiast may have the satisfaction of conquering problems which preoccupied astronomy for hundreds of years, and, in the process, gain a fresh appreciation for the genius and industry of the great mathematicians of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.

This is a how-to-do-it book. Even though the derivations of many important relationships are described in some detail, the emphasis throughout is on practical applications. The reader need only accept the validity of the key equations and understand their symbology in order to use the computer programs to explore the power of the mathematical models. All the important principles have been reduced to complete computer programs written in simple BASIC that will execute directly on a Macintosh using Microsoft BASIC or (with the addition of a statement as line 1005 to reserve extra space in memory) an IBM-PC using BASICA or GWBASIC. For clarity, each program is preceded by an algorithm that describes the sequence of computation and ties it to the mathematics in the text. Further, the program is illustrated by at least one numerical example. Finally, the output from the examples is shown in the format produced by the computer routine. A magnetic media version of the source code is available for the IBM-PC

Who will find this book of value?

Amateur astronomers who want to determine the orbits of planets, comets or Earth satellite
Teachers and students of basic calculus, physics, astronomy or computer programming for a source of material that illuminates and expands upon subjects covered in the classroom."