Originally Posted by

**heartland55** I'm o.k. at algebra, but have an equation to solve that involves a tangent, and the concept is not clear to me. Here is the equation...(it's about determining the mass of two objects by how the path of one object is changed as it comes close to the other object)

tan 1/2 (theta) = G(m=M)/(v)2 b where,

theta = angle of deflection

M and m are the masses of the two objects in question

G is the gravitational constant

v is the relative velocity of the encounter

b is the impact parameter

I'm confused about the "tan" part. Since theta is an angle, in this case 0.05 degrees, what is it that I'm supposed to use the tanger of? Is this simply a matter of looking up the tangent of 1/2 times (0.05)?

If this question would best be posted elsewhere, please let me know.

Thanks in advance!

John