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Newton's Law of Gravity

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Why You Weigh Less at the Equator

Why You Weigh Less at the Equator

Credit: Supportstorm/NASA
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Earth_%26_Moon_compare_Image.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

You probably know that gravity is less on the moon than on Earth. Weight is a measure of the force of gravity pulling on an object, so you’d weigh less on the moon than on Earth. But gravity is the same all over Earth, right?

The Back Story

  • Actually, Earth’s gravity is not as uniform as you might think. Several factors cause gravity to vary around the globe.
  • Credit: NASA
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GPB_circling_earth.jpg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    This 2D representation shows how Earth's gravity affects other objects near it [Figure2]

     

  • Newton’s law of gravity explains how some of the factors affect Earth’s gravity. Watch this video to review Newton’s law:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk5E-CrE1zg

Can You Apply It?

At the links below, learn more about variations in Earth’s gravity. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. State Newton’s law of universal gravitation.
  2. State in your own words how the gravity between two objects varies with the distance between them.
  3. How and why does Earth’s gravity change with latitude?
  4. Why would you weigh less at the equator than at the poles?
  5. How does altitude affect Earth’s gravity? Why?
  6. Would you weigh more or less at the top or the bottom of a tall mountain? Explain.

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Supportstorm/NASA; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Earth_%26_Moon_compare_Image.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: NASA; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GPB_circling_earth.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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