what are some of the reasons for differebt parabolic paths, when comparing different trials? why are the parabolas not a true representation of the actual projectile path?

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The trajectory of a projectile certainly looks parabolic, especially on the scale of someone throwing a ball in the air.  This is a result of the uniform acceleration due to gravity pulling the object down at 9.8 m/s^2.  However, as the trajectory grows in size to that of a satellite, we see that gravity is not really uniform in direction or magnitude and that the actual path that looked like it was part of a parabola on a small scale is actually an ellipse with the center of the Earth at one focus, just as Johannes Kepler realized when he studied the orbits of the planets around the sun.

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