Orbits

Contributor: Rebecca Highland. Lesson ID: 10345

How do satellites stay up there? Why doesn't the moon go flying out into space? See an astronaut drop a hammer and feather, watch cool videos, and do an experiment to learn about gravity and velocity!

categories

Space Science and Astronomy

subject
Science
learning style
Visual
personality style
Lion
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Have you ever wondered why the moon seems to change shape in the sky? It's because the moon revolves around Earth, just like Earth revolves around the sun! This is called orbiting. Watch this Orbits are Odd: Crash Course Kids #22.2 video to learn more:

An orbit is a path that an object follows around another object.

All the planets orbit the sun, but there are things that orbit Earth as well! Two big things orbit the Earth: man-made satellites and our natural satellite, the moon. Let’s think about how this is possible.

If you throw something (say, your pen) up into the air, it falls right back down because of gravity. Objects are attracted to the center of the Earth. So, why can the moon and satellites circle around Earth without falling into it?

There are two big factors that keep satellites like the moon in orbit, rather than crashing into the planet.

  1. The first is the gravitational pull of the Earth. Earth is really big—big enough that it has its own pull of gravity towards the center of the Earth!

  1. The second factor is the velocity of the object. Velocity means speed in a certain direction. So, as long as the speed of an object’s revolution is in balance with the gravity of Earth, the object will stay in orbit.

Watch How Do Satellites Get & Stay in Orbit? from SciShow (below) to learn more:

 

Watch the moon's orbit around the Earth. One Earth month scaled to just 10 minutes in this Earth and moon orbit simulation:

 

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