Fun with Orbits

I enjoy programming and astronomy. To indulge my astronomical interest, I signed up for Swinburne Astronomy Online (SAO), a distance-learning program focused on astronomy. One of the courses I took involves rocketry, and I loved the section on Hohmann maneuvers, which are used to change the orbit of a satellite from one circular orbit to another. For example, they can be used to send a spacecraft from Earth orbit to Mars orbit. This is explained very well in the Wikipedia article on Hohmann maneuvers. In this page, you can find HTML5 simulations of Hohmann maneuvers. The simulations are hardcoded to use Earth orbits, although the programs could be easily generalized to work with any celestial body. The simulations bring in my love of programming. My favorite bit is the graphical presentation made possible by HTML5’s <canvas> tag.

Much more could be done with the simulations, and I may get back to it myself. But for now, I’m declaring them a success and moving on to other distractions.

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