# Selected Topics in Astronomy and Space Studies

## CONTENTS OF CURRICULUM UNIT 96.06.11

## An Interdisciplinary Approach to Kepler’s Laws

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### Introduction

The Universe is still the subject of great interest, mistries, intrieges and great wonderment. Astronomers, Astrologers, mathematicians and philosophers have since ancient times, given their views and interpretations of its origin, chemistry, physical features and life forms. Current space technology has aided recent astronomical discoveries which have drastically reshaped the science and philosophy of some aspects of the Universe.Long before space travel, man used mathematical calculations to interpret and predict astronomical events. It is from this perspective that the idea arises that students in the seventh grade can experience some of the fascination of the applied side of mathematics in a “universal” setting.

My high school experience with Mathematics was one of boredom primarily because at that time the subject was seen in total isolation from my practical interest. My favorite subject then was Chemistry, which required a fair amount of mathematical skill. Suddenly the mathematical topics in the Chemistry came alive, because it was now seen as a vital tool in interpreting the science. Thus, mathematical topics like variation, change of subject and proportionality, assumed new meanings, for the apparent reason that they presented a clear and immediate relevance.

This unit intends to provide a similar effect—an interdisciplinary approach of some Astronomy and Mathematics. Hopefully, this technique will increase the students’ knowledge base and foster an interest in Astronomy and its related subjects. The principal objective of this unit, is to offer a mathematical development which provides relevance and application.

This unit is primarily intended for a New Haven inner city population which consists mostly of Blacks and Latinos. Great care should be taken to ensure that the instruction begins at the students’ existing academic level.

### Basic Objectives

- 1. Students should be able to evaluate a mathematical formula by substitution.
- 2. Students should be able to evaluate using exponents.
- 3. Students should be able to find the square roots of given values.
- 4. Students should be able to provide working definitions of rotation, revolution, light year, Astronomical Unit and velocity. They should relate these facts to an astronomical setting.
- 5. Students should be familiar with the basic features of an ellipse. This information should be applied in determining planetary orbital patterns.
- 6. They should be able to use Kepler’s laws to calculate the Sidereal Period of a planet and its distance from the Sun. 7. They should be able to use the basic knowledge of the orbital patterns of the planets and produce reasonable inferential judgments.