By Lior Burko and Richard Price

Mechanics texts tell us that a particle in a bound orbit under gravitational central force moves on an ellipse, while introductory physics texts approximate the earth as flat, and tell us that the particle moves in a parabola. The uniform-gravity, flat-earth parabola is clearly meant to be an approximation to... Show more

May 17, 2004

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Ballistic trajectory: parabola, ellipse, or what?

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