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The Solar Parallax and its Related Constants

Nature volume 44, pages 115116 | Download Citation



IT would be difficult to conceive a more masterly and comprehensive exposition of astronomical and physical constants than one just issued by Prof. W. Harkness, of the United States Naval Observatory. As is rightly pointed out, "The solar parallax is not an independent constant. On the contrary, it is entangled with the lunar parallax, the constants of precession and nutation, the parallactic inequality of the moon, the lunar inequality of the earth, the masses of the earth and moon, the ratio of the solar and lunar tides, the constant of aberration, the velocity of light, and the light equation.” It should therefore be determined simultaneously with all these quantities by means of a least-square adjustment, and Prof. Harkness develops such a method. The equations connecting the constants are given, whilst the numerical values which are discussed are based upon an enormous mass of astronomical, geodetic, gravitational, and tidal observations which have required more than two hundred years for their accumulation. The sources of probable error are also examined, and it is suggested how some of the constants may be improved in the future. The completeness of the lists. of constants, and the careful manner in which they are discussed and corrected by the comprehensive least-square adjustment which. is developed, justifies our giving seriatim the results obtained:—

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