True anomaly

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The true anomaly of point P is the angle f. The center of the ellipse is point C, and the focus is point F. Eccentric and True Anomaly.svg
The true anomaly of point P is the angle f. The center of the ellipse is point C, and the focus is point F.

In celestial mechanics, true anomaly is an angular parameter that defines the position of a body moving along a Keplerian orbit. It is the angle between the direction of periapsis and the current position of the body, as seen from the main focus of the ellipse (the point around which the object orbits).

Contents

The true anomaly is usually denoted by the Greek letters ν or θ, or the Latin letter f, and is usually restricted to the range 0–360° (0–2πc).

As shown in the image, the true anomaly f is one of three angular parameters (anomalies) that defines a position along an orbit, the other two being the eccentric anomaly and the mean anomaly.

Formulas

From state vectors

For elliptic orbits, the true anomalyν can be calculated from orbital state vectors as:

(if rv < 0 then replace ν by 2πν)

where:

Circular orbit

For circular orbits the true anomaly is undefined, because circular orbits do not have a uniquely determined periapsis. Instead the argument of latitude u is used:

(if rz < 0 then replace u by 2πu)

where:

  • n is a vector pointing towards the ascending node (i.e. the z-component of n is zero).
  • rz is the z-component of the orbital position vector r

Circular orbit with zero inclination

For circular orbits with zero inclination the argument of latitude is also undefined, because there is no uniquely determined line of nodes. One uses the true longitude instead:

(if vx > 0 then replace l by 2πl)

where:

From the eccentric anomaly

The relation between the true anomaly ν and the eccentric anomaly E is:

or using the sine [1] and tangent:

or equivalently:

so

Alternatively, a form of this equation was derived by [2] that avoids numerical issues when the arguments are near , as the two tangents become infinite. Additionally, since and are always in the same quadrant, there will not be any sign problems.

where

so

From the mean anomaly

The true anomaly can be calculated directly from the mean anomaly via a Fourier expansion: [3]

where the means that the omitted terms are all of order e4 or higher. Note that for reasons of accuracy this approximation is usually limited to orbits where the eccentricity (e) is small.

The expression is known as the equation of the center.

Radius from true anomaly

The radius (distance between the focus of attraction and the orbiting body) is related to the true anomaly by the formula

where a is the orbit's semi-major axis.

See also

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References

  1. Fundamentals of Astrodynamics and Applications by David A. Vallado
  2. Broucke, R., & Cefola, P. 1973, Celestial Mechanics, 7, 388
  3. Roy, A.E. (2005). Orbital Motion (4 ed.). Bristol, UK; Philadelphia, PA: Institute of Physics (IoP). p. 84. ISBN   0750310154.

Further reading