Lesson Plan: Orbital Mechanics Physics • 9th Grade

This lesson plan includes the objectives, prerequisites, and exclusions of the lesson teaching students how to use the formula 𝑇 = 2π𝑟/𝑣 to calculate the orbital characteristics of a planet, moon, or man-made satellite in a circular orbit.


Students will be able to

  • use 𝑐=2𝜋𝑟 to find the circumference of an orbit from its radius and vice versa,
  • use 𝑣=2𝜋𝑟𝑇 to find the orbital speed of an object from the radius of its orbit and its orbital period and vice versa.


Students should already be familiar with

  • the qualitative understanding of circular orbits.


Students will not cover

  • any calculations for elliptical orbits,
  • any of Kepler’s laws,
  • Newton’s law of gravitation 𝐹=𝐺𝑀𝑚𝑟,
  • any centripetal force or acceleration calculations (𝐹=𝑚𝑣𝑟 and 𝑎=𝑣𝑟).

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