Kepler's three laws of planetary motion

The obvious answer is 24 hours, but, as Nicholas Mee discovers, that would be far too simple. In fact, the length of a day varies throughout the year. If you plot the position of the Sun in the sky at the same time every day, you get a strange figure of eight which has provided one artist with a source for inspiration.
Chuck Gill caught the space bug as a child when watching Alan Shepherd launch into space. Since then he's worked as a US Air Force navigator, a satellite operator, and in the US intelligence service. These days he's busy reducing carbon emissions and preparing London for the 2012 Olympics. Plus went to see him to find out more about his career.

Plus 1000 — Mathematical lives

The geometry says that now is the right time for a mission to Mars.
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) is now chiefly remembered as a mathematical astronomer who discovered three laws that describe the motion of the planets. J.V. Field continues our series on the origins of proof with an examination of Kepler's astronomy.
  • Want facts and want them fast? Our Maths in a minute series explores key mathematical concepts in just a few words.