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osculating orbit


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The orbit that one celestial body would pursue about another if no other celestial object or forces existed. At any given time the osculating orbit touches the real orbit at a point where the body would have the same position and velocity in both orbits. An osculating orbit would be a perfect ellipse; in practice, real orbits are not because of perturbations from the planets, so the real and osculating orbits gradually depart from each other with time.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.


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