# Projectile Motion

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A gallery curated by The Physics Classroom |
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The world is filled with physics. And
perhaps one of the most obvious examples
is the physics associated with airborne
objects - the physics of projectile
motion.

This gallery explores the world of projectiles, highlighting the principles of physics that govern projectiles. Please enjoy!

To learn more about projectile motion, visit The Physics Classroom Tutorial.

This gallery explores the world of projectiles, highlighting the principles of physics that govern projectiles. Please enjoy!

To learn more about projectile motion, visit The Physics Classroom Tutorial.

**The Physics Classroom**says: A

**projectile**is an object upon which the only force is gravity. Other forces are either absent or of such little strength that they can be considered as having negligible influence upon the object's motion.

When gravity is the only force acting upon an object, the object is in a state of

**free fall**. The force of gravity acts upon the free falling object, pulling it vertically downwards towards the Earth's surface. Since forces cause accelerations, this downward force of gravity causes an acceleration in the downward direction. This acceleration has a value of 9.8 m/s/s for all projectiles, regardless of the mass. Physicists call this the

**acceleration of gravity**.

To learn more about projectile motion, visit The Physics Classroom Tutorial.

**The Physics Classroom**says: Projectile motion is quite common in our world. Ski jumpers, airborne snowboarders and skateboarders, springboard divers, airborne pole vaulters, long jumpers and high jumpers, footballs, baseballs, basketballs, soccer balls, tennis balls, etc. move along trajectories that approximate the trajectory of a projectile. The influence of air resistance forces on many of these objects results in slight deviations from the path of a projectile. Nonetheless, considering them as projectiles is a reasonable approximation.

To learn more about projectile motion, visit The Physics Classroom Tutorial.

**The Physics Classroom**says: The vertical acceleration of a projectile is clearly seen in this photograph. The motion of a flashing light is captured in this long exposure shot. It is tossed (or projected) upward (from the left side). As it travels upwards towards its peak, the distance between each consecutive flash is decreasing over time. The light is slowing down, consistent with a downward acceleration caused by gravity. Near the peak of the trajectory, the light slows down to 0 m/s before turning around and returning to the table. As it fall from the peak (right side of the path), the distance between each consecutive flash is increasing over time. The light is speeding up as it falls.. Once more, this is consistent with an object that has a downward acceleration.

To learn more about the characteristics of a projectile's trajectory, visit The Physics Classroom Tutorial.

**The Physics Classroom**says: This long exposure photograph of a light-up bouncy ball further illustrates the characteristics of a projectile's trajectory. It is common to analyze a projectile's motion by thinking of it as having separate horizontal and vertical motions that occur simultaneously. As a projectile moves up and down, its vertical motion undergoes change. That is to say, there is a vertical acceleration. Yet there is no change in the horizontal motion. Since gravity is a

*vertical thing*, the horizontal motion is not affected by gravity. Thus the horizontal velocity is constant.

Inspection of this photo illustrates these characteristics of motion. The vertical distance between each consecutive flash of the ball is changing over time. Yet the ball seems to travel the same horizontal distance between each consecutive flash. The result of these two simultaneous motions leads to a trajectory that is described as being a

**parabola**.

**The Physics Classroom**says: The diver shown in this sequence photo (and in the previous photo) are often referred to as

**horizontally-launched projectiles**. Initially, at the time of

*projection*, they have only a horizontal motion. Their vertical velocity is 0 m/s. Over time, they begin to gain vertical velocity while keeping their horizontal velocity constant.

While the principles and mathematics of projectile motion are the same for any projectile, distinguishing between horizontally-launched projectiles (as shown here) and angle-launched projectiles (as shown in the next photograph) assists in the mathematical analysis of the motion.

To learn more about the mathematical analysis of horizontally-launched projectiles, visit The Physics Classroom Tutorial.

**The Physics Classroom**says: This sequence photography shot of a ski jumper demonstrates the motion of an

**angled-launched projectile**. At the time of launch, the ski jumper has both a horizontal and vertical velocity. Like any projectile, the vertical velocity changes over time while the horizontal velocity remains constant. The path of the jumper is observed to be a

**parabola**.

Like any projectile, the vertical velocity reduces to 0 m/s at the peak of the trajectory. This is clearly seen in the photo as the vertical position near the peak barely changes from

*frame to frame*.

To learn more about the mathematical analysis of angle-launched projectiles, visit The Physics Classroom Tutorial.

**The Physics Classroom**says: As mentioned, the predicability of a projectile's motion allows one to describe such motions using mathematical formulas. The formulas allow one to predict how high a projectile will rise or how far away (horizontally) a projectile will land. These formulas also allow one to predict how much time a projectile is in the air.

Of course it is the goal of a high jumper to maximize the vertical distance of rise. The mathematical formulas indicate that to maximize this height, s/he must maximize the initial vertical velocity. That is, s/he must increase the upward speed at the time of

*launch*. By doing so, they will increase the height to which they rise at the midpoint of the parabolic path. This is one example of many that illustrates how physics informs athletes how to maximize their performance.

To learn more about these

*how high*and

*how far*formulas, visit The Physics Classroom Tutorial.

**The Physics Classroom**says: While a high jumper wishes to maximize the

*how high*distance, a long jumper wishes to maximize the

*how far*distance. Once the high jumper launches into the air, s/he is a projectile whose motion is governed by the laws of physics. The equations of motion that pertain to projectiles indicate that the horizontal distance can be maximized by increasing the launch speed and adjusting the take-off angle to about 45°. Of course, there are other variables that factor into the success of the jumper, such as controlling their balance at the time of landing so that they fall forward past the point where their feet land.

To learn more about these

*how high*and

*how far*formulas, visit The Physics Classroom Tutorial.

**The Physics Classroom**says: Many projectiles are observed to rotate about an axis of rotation during their flight through the air. The motion of the bat in this photograph at the right illustrates this point. Three flashing lights were placed upon the bat before being tossed into the air. One of the lights was placed at the

**center of mass**of the bat. The other two lights were placed

*off-center*. The photograph - specifically, the trajectory of the three lights - tells the rest of the story. Observet that the trajectory of the

*middle light*follows a parabolic path. The other two lights follow paths other than the customary parabola expected of a projectile. When thinking about rotating objects that undergo projectile motion, it is common to think of the equations of motion as describing the motion of the center of mass of the object.

**The Physics Classroom**says: We hope that you have enjoyed this gallery as we have ventured into the wonderful and predictable world of projectile motion.

To learn more about projectile motion and other topics of physics, visit The Physics Classroom Tutorial.

The Physics Classroom invites you to enjoy additional galleries of physics in our world. Those galleries can be found at The Physics Classroom's Galleries page.

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## Comments on this gallery

I, the Walrus (26 months ago )

Amazing work!

I was looking exactly for this

Aristarcoscannabue (26 months ago )

Is it possible to have the tecnical data of the photo about the man jumping in the see?