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Theory of Jupiter's Satellites Effects of the Figure of Jupiter upon his
Satellites — Position of their Orbits — Singular Laws among the Motions of the first Three Satellites - Eclipses of the Satellites Velocity of Light Aberration Ethereal Medium Satellites of Saturn and Uranus.
THE changes which take place in the planetary system are exhibited on a smaller scale by Jupiter and his satellites ; and, as the period requisite for the development of the inequalities of these moons only extends to a few centuries, it may be regarded as an epitome of that grand cycle which will not be accomplished by the planets in myriads of ages. The revolutions of the satellites about Jupiter are precisely similar to those of the planets about the sun; it is true they are disturbed by the sun, but his distance is so great, that their motions are nearly the same as if they were not under his influence. The satellites, like the planets, were probably projected in elliptical orbits : but, as the masses of the satellites are nearly 100,000 times less than that of Jupiter ; and as the compression of Jupiter's spheroid is so great, in consequence of his rapid rotation, that his equatorial diameter exceeds his polar diameter by no less than 6000 miles; the immense quantity of prominent matter at his equator must soon have given the circular form observed in the orbits of the first and second satellites, which its superior attraction will always maintain. The third and fourth satellites, being farther removed from its influence, revolve in orbits with a very small excentricity. And, although the first two sensibly move in circles, their orbits acquire a small ellipticity, from the disturbances they experience (N. 86).
It has been stated, that the attraction of a sphere on an exterior body is the same as if its mass were united in one particle in its centre of gravity, and therefore inversely as the square of the distance. In a spheroid, however, there is an additional force arising from the bulging mass at its equator, which, not following the exact law of gravity, acts as a disturbing force. One effect of this disturbing force in the spheroid of Jupiter is to occasion a direct motion in the greater axes of the orbits of all his satellites, which is more rapid the nearer the satellite is to the planet, and very much greater than that part of their motion which arises from the disturbing action of the sun.
The same cause occasions the orbits of the satellites to remain nearly in the plane of Jupiter's equator (N. 87), on account of which the satellites are always seen nearly in the same line (N. 88); and the powerful action of that quantity of prominent matter is the reason why the motions of the nodes of these small bodies are so much more rapid than those of the planet. The nodes of the fourth satellite accomplish a tropical revolution in 531 years, while those of Jupiter's orbit require no less than 36,261 years ; -a proof of the reciprocal attraction between each particle of Jupiter's equator and of the satellites. In fact, if the satellites moved exactly in the plane of Jupiter's equator, they would not be pulled out of that plane, because his attraction would be equal on both sides of it. But, as their orbits have a small inclination to the plane of the planet's equator, there is a want of symmetry, and the action of the protuberant matter tends to make the nodes regress by pulling the satellites above or below the planes of their orbits; an action which is so great on the interior satellites, that the motions of their nodes are nearly the same as if no other disturbing force existed.
The orbits of the satellites do not retain a permanent inclination, either to the plane of Jupiter's equator, or to that of his orbit, but to certain planes passing between the two, and through their intersection. These have a greater inclination to his equator the farther the satellite is removed, owing to the influence of Jupiter's compression; and they have a slow motion corresponding to secular variations in the planes of Jupiter's orbit and equator.
The satellites are not only subject to periodic and secular inequalities from their mutual attraction, similar to those which affect the motions and orbits of the planets, but also to others peculiar to themselves. Of the periodic inequalities arising from their mutual attraction the most remarkable take place in the angular motions (N. 89) of the three nearest to Jupiter, the second of which receives from the first a perturbation similar to that which it produces in the third ; and it experiences from the
third a perturbation similar to that which it communicates to the first. In the eclipses these two inequalities are combined into one, whose period is 437.659'days. The variations peculiar to the satellites arise from the secular inequalities occasioned by the action of the planets in the form and position of Jupiter's orbit, and from the displacement of his equator.
It is obvious that whatever alters the relative positions of the sun, Jupiter, and his satellites, must occasion a change in the directions and intensities of the forces, which will affect the motions and orbits of the satellites. For this reason the secular variations in the excentricity of Jupiter's orbit occasion secular inequalities in the mean motions of the satellites, and in the motions of the nodes and apsides of their orbits. The displacement of the orbit of Jupiter, and the variation in the position of his equator, also affect these small bodies (N. 90). The plane of Jupiter's equator is inclined to the plane of his orbit at an angle of 3° 5' 30", so that the action of the sun and of the satellites themselves produces a nutation and precession (N. 91) in his equator, precisely similar to that which takes place in the rotation of the earth, from the action of the sun and moon. Hence the protuberant matter at Jupiter's equator is continually changing its position with regard to the satellites, and produces corresponding mutations in their motions. And, as the cause must be proportional to the effect, these inequalities afford the means, not only of ascertaining the compression of Jupiter's spheroid, but they prove that his mass is not homogeneous. Although the apparent diameters of the satellites are too small to be measured, yet their perturbations give the values of their masses with considerable accuracy-a striking proof of the power of analysis.
A singular law obtains among the mean motions and mean longitudes of the first three satellites. It appears from observation that the mean motion of the first satellite, plus twice that of the third, is equal to three times that of the second ; and that the mean longitude of the first satellite, minus three times that of the second, plus twice that of the third, is always equal to two right angles. It is proved by theory, that, if these relations had only been approximate when the satellites were first launched into space, their mutual attractions would have established and maintained them, notwithstanding the secular inequalities to which they are liable. They extend to the synodic motions (N. 92) of the satellites; consequently they affect their eclipses, and have a very great influence on their whole theory. The satellites move so nearly in the plane of Jupiter's equator, which has a very small inclination to bis orbit, that the first three are eclipsed at each revolution by the shadow of the planet, which is much larger than the shadow of the moon : the fourth satellite is not eclipsed so frequently as the others. The eclipses take place close to the disc of Jupiter when he is near opposition (N. 93); but at times his shadow is so projected with regard to the earth, that the third and fourth satellites vanish and reappear on the same side of the disc (N. 94). These eclipses are in all respects similar to those of the moon : but, occasionally, the satellites eclipse Jupiter, sometimes passing like obscure spots across his surface, resembling annular eclipses of the sun, and sometimes like a bright spot traversing one of his dark belts. Before opposition, the shadow of the satellite, like a round black spot, precedes its passage over the disc of the planet ; and, after opposition, the shadow follows the satellite.
In consequence of the relations already mentioned in the mean motions and mean longitudes of the first three satellites, they never can be all eclipsed at the same time : for, when the second and third are in one direction, the first is in the opposite direction; consequently, when the first is eclipsed, the other two must be between the sun and Jupiter. The instant of the beginning or end of an eclipse of a satellite marks the same instant of absolute time to all the inhabitants of the earth ; therefore, the time of these eclipses observed by a traveller, when compared with the time of the eclipse computed for Greenwich, or any other fixed meridian (N. 95), gives the difference of the meridians in time, and, consequently, the longitude of the place of observation. The longitude is determined with extreme precision whenever it is possible to convey the time instantaneously by means of electricity from one place to another, since it obviates the errors of clocks and chronometers. The eclipses of Jupiter's satellites have been the means of a discovery which, though not so immediately applicable to the wants of man, unfolds one of the properties of light—that medium without whose cheering influence all the beauties of the creation would have been to us a blank. It is observed, that those eclipses of the first satellite which happen when Jupiter is near conjunction
(N. 96), are later by 16' 26":6 than those which take place when the planet is in opposition. As Jupiter is nearer to us when in opposition by the whole breadth of the earth's orbit than when in conjunction, this circumstance is to be attributed to the time employed by the rays of light in crossing the earth’s orbit, a distance of about 190,000,000 of miles; whence it is estimated that light travels at the rate of 192,000 miles in one second. Such is its velocity, that the earth, moving at the rate of nineteen miles in a second, would take two months to pass through a distance which a ray of light would dart over in eight minutes. The subsequent discovery of the aberration of light has fully confirmed this astonishing result.
Objects appear to be situate in the direction of the rays which proceed from them. Were light propagated instantaneously, every object, whether at rest or in motion, would appear in the direction of these rays; but, as light takes some time to travel, we see Jupiter in conjunction, by means of rays that left him 16m 26*.6 before; but, during that time, we have changed our position, in consequence of the motion of the earth in its orbit : we therefore refer Jupiter to a place in which he is not. His true position is in the diagonal (N. 97) of the parallelogram, whose sides are in the ratio of the velocity of light to the velocity of the earth in its orbit, which is as 192,000 to 19, or nearly as 10,000 to 1. In consequence of the aberration of light, the heavenly bodies seem to be in places in which they are not. In fact, if the earth were at rest, rays from a star would pass along the axis of a telescope directed to it; but, if the earth were to begin to move in its orbit with its usual velocity, these rays would strike against the side of the tube ; it would, therefore, be necessary to incline the telescope a little, in order to see the star. The angle contained between the axis of the telescope and a line drawn to the true place of the star is its aberration, which varies in quantity and direction in different parts of the earth’s orbit; but, as it is only 20".481, it is insensible in ordinary cases (N. 98).
The velocity of light deduced from the observed aberration of the fixed stars perfectly corresponds with that given by the eclipses of the first satellite. The same result, obtained from sources so different, leaves not a doubt of its truth. Many such beautiful coincidences, derived from circumstances apparently the most unpromising and dissimilar, occur in physical astronomy,