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The Solar System

What is an Orbit?

The path of an object as it moves around
another object in space is called its orbit.

A planet, asteroid or comet may orbit a star.
An artificial satellite or moon may orbit a planet.

An object's orbit can be circular or elliptical.
The orbit is small if the object is close to the mass it is orbiting.
The orbit can be very large if the object is very far away.

The exact size and shape of an orbit depends on
the speed and direction of the object and the force of gravity.

For a circular orbit,
the smaller the orbit the faster the object is moving.
Mercury is moving faster than Venus,
Jupiter is moving faster than Neptune.
See the summary,
the picture of the solar system and artificial satellites.

An object in an elliptical orbit will have a changing speed
according to how close it is to the mass that it is orbiting.

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