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LESSON 1.

3: ELLIPSES
Lesson 1.3.1: Definition
and Equation of an Ellipse
DEFINITION: An ellipse is a closed
figure in a plane that closely
resembles an oval. It is a set of all
coplanar points such that the sum
of its distances from two fixed
points is constant. The fixed points
are called the foci of the ellipse.
PARTS OF AN ELLIPSE:
(1) An ellipse has two axes of
symmetry. The longer axis is called
the major axis, and the shorter axis
is called the minor axis.
(2) The major axis contains the foci.
Consequently, the foci are inside
the ellipse.
(3) The intersection of the two axes
is called the center of the ellipse.
(4) The ellipse intersects the major
axis in two points called the
vertices of the ellipse.
(5) Segments passing through the
foci of the ellipse that is
perpendicular to the major axis are
called the two latus rectum.
(6) Lines outside the ellipse that is
parallel to the minor axis and has
the same distance from the vertices
as the foci are the two directrices.

Activity 1: Consider the points

F1(-3,0) and F2(3,0), as shown in
Figure 1.21. What is the sum of the
distances of A(4, 2.4) from F1 and
from F2? How about the sum of the
distances from point B? and from
point C(0,-4) from F1 and from F2?
STANDARD EQUATION OF ELLIPSE:
Horizontal Ellipse
(1) Center: origin (0,0)
(2) Major axis: y = 0 or the x-axis
• The length is 2a.
• Endpoints - (±a,0)
(3) Minor axis: x = 0 or the y-axis
• The length is 2b.
• Endpoints: (0±b)
(4) Foci: F1(-c,0) & F2(c,0)
• Each focus is c units away from
the center.
• For any point on the ellipse, the
sum of its distances is 2a.
(5) Vertices: V1(-a,0) & V2(a,0)
• The vertices are points on the
ellipse, collinear with the center
and foci.
• If y = 0, then x = ±a. Each vertex is
a units away from the center.
• The segments V1V2 is called the
major axis.
(6) Covertices: W1(0,-b) & W2(0,b)
• If x = 0, then y = ±b. Each covertex
is b units away from the center.
• The segments W1W2 is called the
minor axis.
(7) Latus rectum: x = ±c
𝟐𝒃𝟐
• Length is
𝒂
𝒃𝟐 𝒃𝟐
• Endpoints: (-c,± ) & (c,± )
𝒂 𝒂
𝒂𝟐
(8) Directrix: x=±
𝒄
𝒙𝟐 𝒚𝟐
(9) Equation: + = 𝟏 where
𝒂𝟐 𝒃𝟐
𝒄 = √𝒂𝟐 − 𝒃𝟐 and 𝒂 > 𝒃
ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE 1.3.1:
Give the coordinates of the foci,
vertices, and the covertices of the
𝒙𝟐 𝒚𝟐
ellipse with equation: + = 𝟏
𝟐𝟓 𝟗
Sketch the graph, and include these
points.
ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE 1.3.2:
Find the standard equation of the
ellipse whose foci are F1(-3,0) and
F2(3,0), such that any point on it, the
sum of its distances from the foci is 10.
See Figure 1.21.
PROBLEM SET NO. 7:
(1) Give the coordinates of the foci,
vertices, and the covertices of the
𝒙𝟐 𝒚𝟐
ellipse with equation: + =𝟏
𝟏𝟔𝟗 𝟐𝟓
Sketch the graph, and include these
points.
(2) Find the standard equation of the
ellipse whose foci are F1(-8,0) and
F2(8,0), such that any point on it, the
sum of its distances from the foci is 20.
Lesson 1.3.2: More
Properties of Ellipses
Horizontal Ellipse

𝒙𝟐 𝒚𝟐
+ =𝟏
𝒂𝟐 𝒃𝟐

Vertical Ellipse
𝒙𝟐 𝒚𝟐
+ =𝟏
𝒃𝟐 𝒂𝟐
KEYNOTES:
(1) 𝒄 = √𝒂𝟐 − 𝒃𝟐 and 𝒂 > 𝒃
(2) In the standard equation, if x-
part has a bigger denominator, the
ellipse is horizontal.
(3) If the y-part has the biggest
denominator, the ellipse is vertical.

SUMMARY C(0,0):
Center (0,0) Ellipse with foci Ellipse with foci
on the x-axis on the y-axis
Type Horizontal Vertical
𝒙𝟐 𝒚𝟐 𝒙𝟐 𝒚𝟐
Equation + 𝟐=𝟏 + 𝟐=𝟏
𝒂𝟐 𝒃 𝒃 𝟐 𝒂
Vertices (±a, 0) (0, ±a)
Foci (±c, 0) (0, ±c)
Covertices (0,±b) (±b,0)
Major axis
y = 0 or on the x = 0 or on the
x-axis y-axis
Minor axis
x = 0 or on the y = 0 or on the
y-axis x-axis
𝒂𝟐 𝒂𝟐
Directrices x=± y=±
𝒄 𝒄
Latus Rectum x = ±c y = ±c
𝒃𝟐 𝒃𝟐 𝒃𝟐 𝒃𝟐
Endpoints: (-c,± ) & (c,± ) (± ,-c ) & (± ,c)
𝒂 𝒂 𝒂 𝒂
DISTANCES:
major axis 2a
minor axis 2b
c c = √𝒂𝟐 − 𝒃𝟐
𝟐𝒃𝟐
latus rectum LR =
𝒂
√𝒂𝟐 −𝒃𝟐
Eccentricity e=
𝒂

ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE 1.3.3:

Find the coordinates of the foci
and vertices, the endpoints of the
major axis, minor axis, and the
latus rectum for each ellipse
whose center is at (0,0). Draw the
ellipse, its foci, and directrices.

𝒙𝟐 𝒚𝟐
(1) + =𝟏
𝟐𝟓 𝟗
𝟐 𝟐
(2) 𝟗𝒙 + 𝟏𝟔𝒚 − 𝟏𝟒𝟒 = 𝟎
ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE 1.3.4:
Write the equation of the ellipse
with center at the origin that
satisfies the given conditions.
Draw the ellipse, its foci, and
directrices.
(1) The foci have coordinates
(±4,0) and a vertex at (5,0).
(2) The length of the latus rectum
𝟖
is and the vertices have
𝟓
coordinates (0,-5) and (5,0).

PROBLEM SET NO. 8:

Given: The endpoints of the major
axis are (0,-4) and (0,4), and the
endpoints of the minor axis is
(-1,0) and (1,0). Write the equation
of the ellipse with center at the
origin that satisfies the given
conditions. Draw the ellipse, its
foci, and directrices.
Horizontal
C(h,k)

(𝒙−𝒉)𝟐 (𝒚−𝒌)𝟐
+ =𝟏
𝒂𝟐 𝒃𝟐
Vertical
C(h,k)
(𝒙−𝒉)𝟐 (𝒚−𝒌)𝟐
+ =𝟏
𝒃𝟐 𝒂𝟐
SUMMARY C(h,k):
Ellipse with foci Ellipse with foci
Center (h,k) on a line parallel on a line parallel
to the x-axis to the y-axis
Type Horizontal Vertical
(𝒙 − 𝒉)𝟐 (𝒚 − 𝒌)𝟐 (𝒙 − 𝒉)𝟐 (𝒚 − 𝒌)𝟐
Equation + =𝟏 + =𝟏
𝒂𝟐 𝒃𝟐 𝒃𝟐 𝒂𝟐
Vertices ( h±a, k ) ( h, k±a )
Foci ( h±c, k ) ( h, k±c )
Covertices ( h, k±b ) ( h±b, k )
Major axis y=k x=h
Minor axis x=h y=k

ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE 1.3.5:

Give the coordinates of the center,
foci, vertices, and covertices of the
ellipse with the given equation.
Sketch the graph, and include
these points.

(𝒙+𝟑)𝟐 (𝒚−𝟓)𝟐
(1) + =𝟏
𝟐𝟒 𝟒𝟗
(2) 𝟗𝒙𝟐 + 𝟏𝟔𝒚𝟐 − 𝟏𝟐𝟔𝒙 + 𝟔𝟒𝒚 = 𝟕𝟏
ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE 1.3.6:
The foci of an ellipse are (-3,-6)
and (-3,2). For any point on the
ellipse, the sum of its distances
from foci is 4. Find the standard
equation of the elipse.
ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE 1.3.7:
An ellipse has vertices (𝟐 − √𝟔𝟏, −𝟓)
and (𝟐 + √𝟔𝟏, −𝟓), and its minor
axis is 12 units long. Find the
standard equation and its foci.

PROBLEM SET NO. 9:

(1) Give the coordinates of the
center, foci, vertices, and covertices
of the ellipse with the equation
𝟒𝟏𝒙𝟐 + 𝟏𝟔𝒚𝟐 + 𝟐𝟒𝟔𝒙 − 𝟏𝟗𝟐𝒚 +
𝟐𝟖𝟗 = 𝟎. Sketch the graph, and
include these points.
(2) An ellipse has vertices (-10,-4)
and (6,-4), and its covertices (-2,-9)
and (-2,1). Find the standard
equation and its foci.
Lesson 1.3.3: Situational
Problems Involving Ellipses
ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE 1.3.8:
A tunnel has the shape of a
semiellipse that is 15 feet high at
the center, and 36 feet across at
the base. At most how high should
a passing truck be, if it is 12 feet
wide, for it to be able to fit
through the tunnel? Round off
your answer to 2 decimal places.
ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE 1.3.9:
The orbit of a planet has the shape
of an ellipse, and on one of the
foci is the star around which it
revolves. The planet is closest to
the star when it is at one vertex. It
is farthest from the star when it is
at the other vertex. Suppose the
closest and the farthest distances
of the planet from this star, are
420 million kilometers and 580
million kilometers, respectively.
Find the equation of the ellipse, in
standard form, with center at the
origin and the star at the x-axis.
Assume all units are in million
kilometers.

PROBLEM SET NO. 10:

The arch of a bridge is in shape of
a semiellipse, with its major axis at
the water level. Suppose the arch
is 20 feet high in the middle, and
120 feet across its major axis. How
high above the water level is the
arch, at a point 20 feet from the
center (horizontally)? Round off to
2 decimal places. Refer to Example
1.3.8 and illustrate the problem.