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Thread: Cometary Orbital Paths

  1. #1 Cometary Orbital Paths 
    Forum Bachelors Degree dmwyant's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    I was pondering something and could not find a good answer when I googled it.
    Haley's Comet has an orbit that brings it into view evry 72 (+or-) years. The sun is one ned of the orbital anchor but if gravity is a relatively weak force what does the comet orbit around when it gets 30 odd years out to bring it back toward the sun?

    Not all who wander are lost... Some of us just misplaced our destination.

    I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of a man is to live, not to exist.
    -Jack London
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  3. #2  
    Comet Dust Collector Moderator
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    New Jersey, USA
    Both the comet and the sun orbit the center of mass of the solar system, the barycenter. Most of the time that lies below the surface of the sun, but when Jupiter and Saturn are on the same side of the solar system, it's outside of the surface of the sun. All heliocentric (sun centered) orbits, such as planets, asteroids, and comets orbit this single point. Gravity isn't as weak as you think, since material more than 2 light years from the sun still orbits the same point.

    PS, the current orbital period of Comet 1P/Halley is 75.3 years

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