© 2012

Newton's Gravity

An Introductory Guide to the Mechanics of the Universe


Part of the Undergraduate Lecture Notes in Physics book series (ULNP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Douglas W. MacDougal
    Pages 1-15
  3. Douglas W. MacDougal
    Pages 17-36
  4. Douglas W. MacDougal
    Pages 37-58
  5. Douglas W. MacDougal
    Pages 107-125
  6. Douglas W. MacDougal
    Pages 167-191
  7. Douglas W. MacDougal
    Pages 239-265
  8. Douglas W. MacDougal
    Pages 267-288
  9. Douglas W. MacDougal
    Pages 289-312
  10. Douglas W. MacDougal
    Pages 355-375
  11. Douglas W. MacDougal
    Pages 377-395
  12. Douglas W. MacDougal
    Pages 397-418

About this book


“Newton’s Gravity” conveys the power of simple mathematics to tell the fundamental truth about nature. Many people know the tides are caused by the pull of the Moon and to a lesser extent the Sun. But very few can explain exactly how and why that happens. Fewer still can calculate the  actual pulls of the Moon and Sun on the oceans. This book shows in clear detail how to do this with simple tools. It uniquely crosses disciplines – history, astronomy, physics and mathematics – and takes pains to explain things frequently passed over or taken for granted in other books. Using a problem-based approach, “Newton’s Gravity” explores the surprisingly basic mathematics behind gravity, the most fundamental force that governs the movements of satellites, planets, and the stars.


Celestial mechanics Celestial motion History of astronomy Inverse square laq Kepler's laws Law of Planetary motion Laws of gravity Newton's laws Orbital motion Orbital plane

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.PortlandUSA

About the authors

Douglas W. MacDougal has a degree in mathematics, with a minor in physics, from the University of Vermont, and is an adjunct professor at Portland State University teaching celestial mechanics and (previously) astronomy. For many years he also taught courses in astronomy and mathematics in Portland’s Saturday Academy, whose classes typically include gifted middle school and high school students. MacDougal is a lifelong amateur astronomer, and he teaches every summer at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) Astronomy Camp in the Oregon desert, showing students the stars through his 18-inch telescope.

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:


“It would suit a class in astronomy for non-scientists who know the basic rules of algebra and arithmetic and who are prepared for some quantitative work without the use of advanced mathematics; or an adult evening-education class; or amateur astronomers … who have always wanted to know how to do astronomical calculations. … I give it high marks, and anyone working through it thoroughly will acquire a pretty good knowledge of the subject, so go for it.” (Jeremy B. Tatum, The Observatory, Vol. 133 (1236), October, 2013)