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Graphing data in a lab- astrophysics

  1. Mar 10, 2016 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Hello! So, I recently did an experiment where I altered the eccentricity and distance from the sun of a planet orbiting around the Sun in a simulation and measured how long it took the planet to complete a single orbit. With this data, I compared my experimental data with the actual orbital period of each planet in the Solar System. I tested the eccentricity and distance of the sun for each planet so I was using actual values and essentially seeing how each planet's orbit differed between a simulation and real life.

    I'm writing up a lab report, but the problem is, I'm not sure what kind of graph to make for my data. I recently thought of creating two graphs, where eccentricity or distance from the Sun would be on the x-axis and orbital period could be on the y-axis. Would that be a good way to graph my data? Or is there a better way to do so?

    2. Relevant equations
    Some of Kepler's laws are relevant here, but I didn't use them in my experiment.

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I originally attempted to graph the experimental orbital periods against the actual ones, but that didn't work very well. I posted this thread a few minutes ago and, before it was deleted due to my not using the template, one user (@haruspex ) suggested making a graph with the error of the simulation on the y-axis. If I were to do that, what would I put on the x-axis?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2016 #2


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    I did answer that too. To plot against two free variables, a common method is to pick one variable as the x coordinate and plot a separate curve (on the same chart) for each value of the other. If one variable takes relatively few values and they are equally spaced, that is a good candidate for the per-curve variable.
  4. Mar 10, 2016 #3
    Thank you very much!
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