What Is the Difference Between an Orbit and an Orbital?

Astronomy, Physics
[caption id="attachment_15523" align="alignright" width="440"] A 5-D atomic orbital, m=5[/caption] Although words can have multiple meanings, we will consider only the difference between an orbit and an orbital, the path of planets and that of electrons in atoms. Planets (and other astronomy objects) travel in orbits. Jupiter and Haley’s Comet orbit the Sun. Electrostatic forces and selection rules hold electrons in specific atomic orbitals. What is an Orbit? Orbits are generally elliptical in shape. Ellipses are circles that are stretched out along one axis. The degree of stretching is termed eccentricity.  The greater the stretch, the greater the eccentricity. Consider the figure below for comparison. The object doing the orbiting travels strictly in the path of the orbit. It does not deviate. In this respect, orbits of astronomical objects are different…
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