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they depend on the configuration of the two planets; and the theory is perfectly confirmed by observation, which shows that in the course of twenty centuries, Jupiter's mean motion has been accelerated by 3° 23', and Saturn's retarded by 5°13'.
It might be imagined that the reciprocal action of such planets as have satellites would be different from the influence of those that have none; but the distances of the satellites from their primaries are incomparably less than the distances of the planets from the sun, and from one another, so that the system of a planet and its satellites moves nearly as if all those bodies were united in their common centre of gravity; the action of the sun however disturbs in some degree the motion of the satellites about their primary.
The changes that take place in the planetary system are exhibited on a small scale by Jupiter and his satellites; and as the period requisite for the development of the inequalities of these little 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 centuries. 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 the compression of Jupiter's spheroid is very great in consequence of his rapid rotation; and as the masses of the satellites are nearly 100000 times less than that of Jupiter, 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 further removed from its influence, move in orbits with a very small eccentricity. The same cause occasions the orbits of the satellites to remain nearly in the plane of Jupiter's equator, on account of which they are always seen nearly in the same line; and the powerful action of that quantity of prominent matter is the reason why the motion of the nodes of these little bodies is so much more rapid than those of the planet. The nodes of the fourth satellite accomplish a revolution in 520 years, while those of Jupiter's
orbit require no less than 50673 years, a proof of the reciprocal attraction between each particle of Jupiter's equator and of the satellites. Although the two first satellites sensibly move in circles, they acquire a small ellipticity from the disturbances they experience.
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 further the satellite is removed, a circumstance entirely owing to the influence of Jupiter's compression.
A singular law obtains among the mean motions and mean longitudes of the three first 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. They extend to the synodic motions 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 his orbit, that they are frequently eclipsed by the planet. 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, gives the difference of the meridians in time, and consequently the longitude of the place of observation. It has required all the refinements of modern instruments to render the eclipses of these remote moons available to the mariner; now however, that system of bodies invisible to the naked eye, known to man by the aid of science alone, enables him to traverse the ocean, spreading the light of knowledge and the blessings of civilization over the most remote regions, and to return loaded with the productions of another hemisphere. Nor is this all: 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 a property 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, are later by 16' 26" than those which take place when the planet is in opposition. But as Jupiter is nearer to us when in opposition by the whole breadth of the earth's orbit than when in conjunction, this circumstance was attributed to the time employed by the rays of light in crossing the earth's orbit, a distance of 192 millions of miles; whence it is estimated, that light travels at the rate of 192000 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 confirmed this astonishing result.
Objects appear to be situate in the direction of the rays that 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, when Jupiter is in conjunction, we see him by means of rays that left him 16' 26" 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 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 192000 to 19. In consequence of aberration, none of the heavenly bodies are in the place in which they seem to be. 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 never exceeds twenty seconds, it is insensible in ordinary cases.
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 apparently the most unpromising and dissimilar circumstances, occur in physical astronomy, and prove dependences which we might otherwise be unable to trace. The identity of the velocity of light at the distance of Jupiter and on the earth's surface shows that its velocity is uniform; and if light consists in the vibrations of an elastic fluid or ether filling space, which hypothesis accords best with observed phenomena, the uniformity of its velocity shows that the density of the fluid throughout the whole extent of the solar system, must be proportional to its elasticity. Among the fortunate conjectures which have been confirmed by subsequent experience, that of Bacon is not the least remarkable. It produces in me,' says the restorer of true philosophy, a doubt, whether the face of the serene and starry heavens be seen at the instant it really exists, or not till some time later; and whether there be not, with respect to the heavenly bodies, a true time and an apparent time, no less than a true place and an apparent place, as astronomers say, on account of parallax. For it seems incredible that the species or rays of the celestial bodies can pass through the immense interval between them and us in an instant; or that they do not even require some considerable portion of time.'
As great discoveries generally lead to a variety of conclusions, the aberration of light affords a direct proof of the motion of the earth in its orbit; and its rotation is proved by the theory of falling bodies, since the centrifugal force it induces retards the oscillations of the pendulum in going from the pole to the equator. Thus a high degree of scientific knowledge has been requisite to dispel the errors of the senses.
The little that is known of the theories of the satellites of Saturn and Uranus is in all respects similar to that of Jupiter. The great compression of Saturn occasions its satellites to move nearly in the plane of its equator. Of the situation of the
equator of Uranus we know nothing, nor of its compression. The orbits of its satellites are nearly perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic.
Our constant companion the moon next claims attention. Several circumstances concur to render her motions the most interesting, and at the same time the most difficult to investigate of all the bodies of our system. In the solar system planet troubles planet, but in the lunar theory the sun is the great disturbing cause; his vast distance being compensated by his enormous magnitude, so that the motions of the moon are more irregular than those of the planets; and on account of the great ellipticity of her orbit and the size of the sun, the approximations to her motions are tedious and difficult, beyond what those unaccustomed to such investigations could imagine. Neither the eccentricity of the lunar orbit, nor its inclination to the plane of the ecliptic, have experienced any changes from secular inequalities; but the mean motion, the nodes, and the perigee, are subject to very remarkable variations.
From an eclipse observed at Babylon by the Chaldeans, on the 19th of March, seven hundred and twenty-one years before the Christian era, the place of the moon is known from that of the sun at the instant of opposition; whence her mean longitude may be found; but the comparison of this mean longitude with another mean longitude, computed back for the instant of the eclipse from modern observations, shows that the moon performs her revolution round the earth more rapidly and in a shorter time now, than she did formerly; and that the acceleration in her mean motion has been increasing from age to age as the square of the time; all the ancient and intermediate eclipses confirm this result. As the mean motions of the planets have no secular inequalities, this seemed to be an unaccountable anomaly, and it was at one time attributed to the resistance of an ethereal medium pervading space; at another to the successive transmission of the gravitating force: but as La Place proved that neither of these causes, even if they exist, have any influence on the motions of the lunar perigee or nodes, they could not affect the mean motion, a variation in the latter from such a cause being inseparably connected with