Central force fields and Kepler's laws

Luis Blanco, María García-García, Joaquín Gutíerrez, Andrea Rios
  • The Mathematical Gazette, June 2018, Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/mag.2018.58

Properties of central force fields and simple proof of Kepler's laws

What is it about?

In this survey we give very simple proofs of Kepler's Laws and other facts about central force fields using only Newton's second law, Newton's law of universal gravitation, basic notions of vector calculus, and an elementary double integral. Hopefully, this article will help undergraduate students of mathematics and engineering who wish to understand these fundamental scientific discoveries. In many textbooks, Kepler's Laws are obtained using conservation of energy and angular momentum, differential equations, mobile reference systems, or notions not so well-defined such as differentials or ‘infinitesimal elements’. Some of the arguments appear to be rather involved if one is not accustomed to them, whereas the proof of Kepler's Laws may actually be obtained from quite simple facts.

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The following have contributed to this page: Andrea Michelle Rios Lazcano, Joaquin Gutierrez, and Luis Blanco