Difference Between Orbit and Orbital

Very often people confuse the words orbit and orbital. Many believe that it is the same thing, others know that they are different, but they do not know how to explain what differentiates them. However, although they sound similar, it is important to keep in mind that they do not mean the same thing.

If you have doubts about the difference between orbital and orbit or are simply looking for a little more information to complement what you already know, then continue reading, because below we explain everything you need to know about to this interesting topic.

ORBIT  Difference Between Orbit and Orbital

The orbit is the path traced by an electron that revolves around the nucleus of an atom . Likewise, the path that the planets follow when they revolve around another astronomical body is called an orbit.

In a term quite discussed in Astronomy. The orbit describes a two-dimensional rounded trajectory in space that represents the planetary motion and also the location of electrons around the nucleus of an atom. In the same way, it is the curved path that an object takes around a star, a planet, a moon.

The most common example to describe what an orbit is is our planet Earth, Jupiter and Saturn that follow their orbit around the sun.

There are two types of orbit: geosynchronous orbit and geostationary orbit. The first refers to the path around a planet that has the same orbital period as the planet’s period of rotation. While the second is almost the same as the first, only in this case it remains stationary with respect to a single point on the planet’s surface.


On the other hand, orbital can be defined as a wave function that describes the state or location of a single electron in an atom (atomic orbital) or in a molecule (molecular orbital). It is a region of space around the nucleus, where the probability of finding an electron is maximum.

Finally, an orbital is an indecisive region within an atom and it is in this region that the probability of finding an electron is highest. Orbitals arise in different forms according to the component and its atomic number.

The orbit is the path or path that the planets follow , while the orbital is the shape that results from the combination of all the orbits that an electron is likely to follow. Orbits exist for two bodies with mass, while an orbital only exists for atoms, electrons, and molecules.

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