Q:

What is a circle's eccentricity?

A:

The eccentricity of a circle is zero. For a curved shape such as an ellipse, parabola or hyperbola, the eccentricity indicates how far away the shape is from being a circle. The more circular the shape is, the smaller the eccentricity. However, the flatter it is, the greater the eccentricity.

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The eccentricities of certain shapes fall within defined ranges. For an ellipse, the eccentricity lies between zero and one. A parabola, which is typically more stretched out, has an eccentricity of one. The eccentricity of a hyperbola is greater than one. However, a straight line has an eccentricity of infinity. In a practical application, the eccentricity of the earth's orbit around the sun is 0.02, because the path is not quite circular.

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