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Gauss's Orbits

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Author:Ivars Peterson (MathTrek)
Description: During the latter part of 1801, Gauss brought his formidable powers to bear on celestial mechanics. Like a skillful mechanic, he systematically disassembled the creaky, ponderous engine that had long been used for determining approximate orbits and rebuilt it into an efficient, streamlined machine that could function reliably given even minimal data. Historical accounts typically omit the mathematical details of how Gauss solved the problem of determining the orbit of Ceres. In an illuminating article in the April Mathematics Magazine, Donald Teets and Karen Whitehead of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City fill in that gap...

Levels: Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles
Math Topics: Astronomy

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