Module 3: Orbits and Systems


There is a relationship of the distances of planets from our Sun, usually called "Bode's Rule". You can read the details at the Bode's Rule Site . We will test this to see how good it is as a model.

As a group, test Bode's Rule using the moons of one of the gas giant planets of our solar system.

  • Choose one of the outer planets
  • Determine the orbital distance of 6 - 8 of its moons
  • Select one of the moons to determine the standard AU for that system
  • Apply the mathematical pattern to determine if the planetary system you choose follows the pattern.

In your groups, discuss:

  • How well does Bode's Rule work for our Solar System? How well does it work for the spacing of moon and ring systems around planets? Quanitatively and qualitatively?
  • Are there any exceptions or "anomalies"?
  • How good is this as a model? Does it help us understand the underlying science of planetary spacing? Can it make accurate predictions?
  • What factors effect the result of your investigation?
  • Does it work for other stellar systems?


Individually, submit the results of your group's investigtaion and summarize your group discussion into a few statements or paragraphs and submit it to the Module 3 Homework folder.


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last updated 2/10/02