A centripetal force is a force that makes a body follow a curved path. Its direction is always orthogonal to the motion of the body and towards the fixed point of the instantaneous center of curvature of the path. Isaac Newton described it as “a force by which bodies are drawn or impelled, or in any way tend, towards a point as to a centre”. In Newtonian mechanics, gravity provides the centripetal force responsible for astronomical orbits.
One common example involving centripetal force is the case in which a body moves with uniform speed along a circular path. The centripetal force is directed at right angles to the motion and also along the radius towards the centre of the circular path.