Authors: Edgar Everhart, Edward T. Pitkin
Ref: American Journal of Physics 51, 712 (1983)
Abstract: Universal variables offer a considerable improvement on classical methods of solving the two-body problem. The method has the same structure regardless of whether the orbit is an ellipse, parabola, or hyperbola. The near-parabolic orbit is handled with ease. Universal variables are particularly useful when starting with a position-velocity vector at time zero and finding this vector at any other time. This paper is tutorial, written in the belief that this method should be better known. A laboratory exercise is described which uses universal variables in plotting orbits in the solar system. The Appendix contains a concise derivation of the equations for universal variables.
© M. Vallisneri 2012 — last modified on 2010/01/29
Tantum in modicis, quantum in maximis