Elliptical Orbits

solar-system-orbit

(Image Courtesy of wiseGEEK)

Apparently I have a lot in common with early astronomers. Both Copernicus and Galileo thought that planets traveled in perfectly round orbits, because the circle was an “ideal shape.” Circular orbits made sense, something is moving around something else, and a circle is a pretty good choice and seems right. Especially if you have an “ideal shape” or expectation in your mind in the first place.

With all the recent friend research we did together, friends and relationships continue to be present in my mind. I found myself using the term “orbit” a lot with friends.

“Hey, I want you back in my orbit.”

“You seem to be drifting out of my orbit.”

“Why can’t we stay in orbit?”

But there is a law of motion in the universe. Johannes Kepler noticed that the “ideal shape” didn’t explain everything. Instead, he discovered something else.

The orbit of a planet follows an ellipse with the sun at one focus. He discovered that the motion and travel was not an “ideal shape” but instead an almost flattened version of the ideal.

This means that at any given time, planets will be further away from the sun, and other times they will be closer, but still in orbit.

When it comes to friends, I fell into the same “ideal shape” trap. Since I assumed that being in orbit with a friend was a perfect circle, any perceived distance was interpreted as getting out of orbit.

But maybe, Kepler’s First Law of Motion can apply here too.

Let’s call it Carl’s First Law of Friendship:

“The orbit of a friend follows AN ELLIPSE with YOU at one focus.”

Realizing that a friendship may follow an Elliptical Orbit helped explain why friends are not always constant or “perfect.” Sometimes they are closer, sometimes they are further away, but that is how orbits work.

Want to know more? Check out this great video on Elliptical Orbits. And just like the astronomers, we will keep trying to understand this whole weird and wonderous universe of friends, and friendships.

 

2 Comments on “Elliptical Orbits

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