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COSMIC SECRETS, PART 6

THE RETROGRADE AND PRECESSION MOTIONS OF PLANETS

This page examines two previously unexplained Solar System anomalies. They are known as (1) the retrograde orbital motion of planets and (2) the precession orbital motion of planets.

The Orbital Retrograde Phenomenon

The normal orbit of planets around the Sun is in a counterclockwise manner. Occasionally, in their orbits, astronomers have observed that planets tend to reverse course and briefly start moving around or orbiting the Sun in a clockwise manner. This brief reversal of orbital motion is referred to as a retrograde orbit. How can this be? What accounts for this retrograde motion of planets?

For many centuries, this revelation about brief planetary retrograde motion puzzled scientists. Scientists could not explain how the planets seemed to briefly start orbiting the Sun in a clockwise manner before changing course by resuming their normal counterclockwise orbits.

To be sure, if it were proven to be a fact, then the retrograde motions of planets would represent a fundamental violation of Sir Isaac Newton's laws of motion. According to Sir Isaac Newton, a (heavenly) body in motion would stay in motion. A (heavenly) body in motion would not change its path of motion unless it was acted upon by an unbalanced force. Yet, other than the gravitational force of the Sun, no unbalanced force was observed acting on the planets such that, during the course of their orbits around the Sun, the planets would suddenly and momentarily change course and start orbiting around the Sun in the opposite direction before resuming their counterclockwise orbits. What, then, was going on with the planets to explain their observed occasional retrograde motions?

Diagram explaining the apparent retrograde motion of an outer planet as seen from Earth, in this case Mars by Socrates Linardos

Retrograde Motion of Mars



Animation of the night sky showing the apparent retrograde motion of the planet Mars in August and September of 2003 in the constellation Aquarius by Eugene Alvin Villar

Apparent Retrograde Motion of the Planet Mars

It turns out that the answer to this cosmic secret is this: The seemingly retrograde motion of planets is nothing other than an optical illusion much like the rising and setting of the Sun are optical illusions. Except in its orbit around the center of the Milky Way galaxy and except for the entire Milky Way galaxy floating through spacetime, the Sun's position is fixed. That is to say, the Sun never moves relative to the positions of the planets in the Solar System. It is the planets that are moving. It is the planets that are orbiting around the Sun as they revolve on their axes. It is the revolution and orbit of planets that create the optional illusion of planetary retrograde motions as planets overtake one another while orbiting the Sun. Likewise, it is the rotating of Earth on its axis and the revolving of Earth around the Sun that create the optical illusion of a rising and setting Sun.

The next bloc of videos provides additional insights into the retrograde motion of planets.

Watch (What is Retrograde Motion?)



Watch (Astronomy with MicroStation Retrograde Motion of Planets)

The Orbital Precession Phenomenon

Another observed but once little understood Solar System phenomenon was the unusual orbit of the planet Mercury. Astronomers long ago had observed that the planets follow precise or fixed, counterclockwise, and elliptical orbits around the Sun. One exception to this fixed-orbit rule was the case of planet Mercury. After years of observation, astronomers observed that Mercury was minutely shifting position in its orbit of the Sun. Mercury orbit's of the Sun was not as fixed as were the orbits of the other planets in the Solar System. The shifting position of a planet's orbit of the Sun is referred to as orbital precession. Scientists observed the unusual degree to which Mercury's orbit was shifting, but they were not able to reconcile their observed measurements to the measurements provided by using Sir Isaac Newton's laws of motion and universal gravitation.

For instance, scientists observed Mercury's orbital shift to be by an amount of, say, y degrees over time. But, in their calculations, they only could account for, say x degrees in the amount of Mercury's orbital shift. What accounted for the difference between observed y degrees but computed x degrees? What was happening to cause Mercury to possess a noticeably precessed orbit in the first place? What accounted for the inconsistency in the observed precession versus the mathematical calculations of that same precession?

A gradually precessing elliptical orbit, such as might result from a 1/r³ force, as occurs in general relativity by WillowW

Precessing Kepler Orbit

Centuries had passed since Mercury's precessed orbit was observed, but scientists were not able to explain this orbital anomaly. It was for the great Albert Einstein to provide a definitive answer to Mercury's precessed orbit. Albert Einstein applied his theory of relativity to Mercury's orbit of the Sun to provide an answer to this cosmic secret.

Albert Einstein, half-length portrait, seated, facing right | year 1931 by photographer Doris Ulmann

Albert Einstein

Through mathematical calculations, Albert Einstein explained that Mercury's shifting orbit was caused by the more intensive gravitational effects of warped spacetime around Mercury. This more intensively warped spacetime around Mercury was due to Mercury's very close proximity to the massive Sun, which, in turn, caused Mercury's orbit to precess at a significantly greater degree relative to that of the other planets in the Solar System. Precessed orbits have been observed for the other planets, too, but the degree of their precession over time is negligble or not nearly as dramatic as Mercury's precession over time as explained and illustrated here.

The next bloc of videos provides additional insights into planetary orbital precession, in general, and the planet Mercury with its unusually precessed orbit, in particular.

Watch (Planet Mercury | Space School)



The Terrestrial Planets. Earth Mars Venus Mercury Because the 4 inner planets have solid, rocky terrains...
View more presentations from Madeline Benson



Watch (The Mysterious Orbit of Mercury I The Great Courses)

MORAL OF THE STORY

What is the moral of this retrograde and precession story? The moral of the story is this: When it comes to unexplained phenomena in life (such as planetary orbital anolmalies, for instance), do not allow your beliefs to be driven by superstitious, outlandish, and ridiculous claims about reality. Instead, follow the evidence. Often in life, when an unexplained phenomenon is studied persistently, carefully, and methodically, then it turns out that a perfectly logical explanations exist for seemingly inexplicable phenomena.

The solar system and its nearby galactic neighborhood are illustrated here on a logarithmic scale extending (from < 1 to) 1 million Astornomical Units (AU).

Scale of the Heliosphere and Nearby Galactic Neighborhood

Some Quick Solar System Facts
Count Name of Heavenly Body Average Distance from Sun (As Kilometers) Average Distance from Sun (As Miles) Amount of Time for Light to Reach from Sun (As Minutes) Number of Astronomical Units (AU) from Sun
Count Name of Heavenly Body Average Distance from Sun (As Kilometers) Average Distance from Sun (As Miles) Amount of Time for Light to Reach from Sun (As Minutes) Number of Astronomical Units (AU) from Sun
1 Mercury 57,900,000 36,000,000 3 0.39
2 Venus 108,200,000 67,200,000 6 0.72
3 Earth 149,600,000 93,000,000 8 1.00
4 Mars 227,900,000 141,600,000 13 1.52
5 Jupiter 778,600,000 483,800,000 43 5.20
6 Saturn 1,433,500,000 890,800,000 80 9.58
7 Uranus 2,872,500,000 1,784,800,000 160 19.20
8 Neptune 4,495,100,000 2,793,100,000 250 30.05
9 Pluto 5,906,400,000 3,670,000,000 328 39.48
10 Proxima Centauri 39,707,871,077,952
(trillion)
24,673,327,418,880
(trillion)
2,207,520
(or 4.2 years)
265,426.95

Geostationary Satellite

Geostationary Satellite




CARNAL KNOWLEDGE...IN THE MOOD

Okay, that's enough talk about planets, orbits, the Sun, and the Universe for now. In closing, it is time to return home to Earth. How about it one time for a little bit of Earth-style—and, in particular, USA-style—carnal knowledge to celebrate the return home?

I wonder what professor Einstein would say if he saw this next bloc of music videos. (Caution: While, in my opinion, the music videos below are suitable for teenagers, at times, they can be somewhat steamy and suggestive. The music videos below strictly are intended for adult enjoyment. If mild or tame depictions of human carnal situations upset or offend you, or if you feel that such videos are not suitable or appropriate for viewing, then please do not watch the videos.)

Ladies Shout to the Fellas

Watch (The Pussycat Dolls featuring Snoop Dogg, Buttons)



Watch (Fifth Harmony featuring Ty Dolla $ign, Work from Home)



Watch (Rihanna, Rude Boy)

Fellas Holler Back at the Ladies

Watch (Marvin Gaye, Sexual Healing)



Watch [LSG (Gerald Levert, Keith Sweat, Johnny Gill), My Body]



Watch (The Isley Brothers, Between the Sheets)

Ladies and Fellas Mixing It Up

Watch (Janet Jackson, Anytime, Anyplace)



Watch (Usher featuring Young Jeezy, Love In This Club)



Watch (Keri Hilson, Make Love)



Watch (Urban Mystic featuring MDMA, In The Morning)

Feeling Ecstatic

Watch [Alex Gaudino featuring Maxine Ashley, I'm In Love (I Wanna Do It)]



Watch (Marvin Gaye, Come Live With Me Angel)



Watch (Minnie Riperton, Inside My Love)



Watch (Selena Gomez, Come & Get It)



Watch (Stevie Wonder, Sweetest Somebody I Know)



Watch (Eric Benet featuring Tamia, Spend My Life With You)

I would like to think that professor Einstein would not recoil in horror after viewing the above bloc of music videos. Instead, I would prefer to think that professor Einstein would exclaim, "What's It Gonna Be?!" LOL.



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