Orbital Eccentricities of the Planets

Go back to lesson.

  1. Using the NASA Planetary Facts site, ask students to create a wall chart showing each planet and the eccentricity of its orbit. 

2. Ask students to construct a graph comparing the eccentricity of planetary orbits.  Information can be entered into a spreadsheet and a bar graph created, or the data can be used to draw a graph manually.  The planet's name should appear on the X-axis, and the eccentricity plotted on the Y-axis. 
 
 

 
 Planet Name (X)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    Eccentricity (Y)

 
 
 
 
 
 

3. Lead a classroom discussion, focusing on questions such as: 

  • Which planetary orbit is the most eccentric?
  • Which is the least?
  • Which ones are most alike?
  • What other planet has an orbital eccentricity closest to the earth’s?