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Precession of Mercury's Orbit

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Relativity and the Motion of Mercury
Charles Lane Poor, Ph.D. (bio)
Professor Emeritus of Celestial Mechanics,
Columbia University

Link to Paper (Archive)

From the Introduction:   “ Does the relativity theory, as asserted by Einstein, explain and account for even the single motion of tile perihelion of Mercury? In what way do the formulas of relativity differ from those of the classical mathematics of Newton, and how do these new formulas explain this motion? It is the purpose of this paper to discuss this single phase of the matter; to show that the very equations, or formulas, cited by the relativists as furnishing an explanation of this motion, utterly fail to furnish such an explanation. The formulas of relativity dynamics can not and do not explain the observed perihelial motion of Mercury. ”

The Theory of Mercury’s Anomalous Precession
Roger A. Rydin, Sc.D. (resume)
Associate Professor Emeritus of Nuclear Engineering,
University of Virginia

Link to Paper (Archive)

Abstract:   “ Urbain Le Verrier published a preliminary paper in 1841 on the Theory of Mercury, and a definitive paper in 1859. He discovered a small unexplained shift in the perihelion of Mercury of 39” per century. The results were corrected in 1895 by Simon Newcomb, who increased the anomalous shift by about 10%. Albert Einstein, at the end of his 1916 paper on General Relativity, gave a specific solution for the perihelion shift which exactly matched the discrepancy. Dating from the 1947 Clemence review paper, that explanation and precise value have remained to the present time, being completely accepted by theoretical physicists as absolutely true. Modern numerical fittings of planetary orbits called Ephemerides contain linearized General Relativity corrections that cannot be turned off to see if discrepancies between observation and computation still exist of the magnitude necessary to support the General Relativity estimates of the differences.

The highly technical 1859 Le Verrier paper was written in French. The partial translation given here throws light on Le Verrier’s analysis and thought processes, and points out that the masses he used for Earth and Mercury are quite different from present day values. A 1924 paper by a professor of Celestial Mechanics critiques both the Einstein and the Le Verrier analyses, and a 1993 paper gives a different and better fit to some of Le Verrier’s data. Nonetheless, the effect of errors in planet masses seems to give new condition equations that do not change the perihelion discrepancy by a large amount. The question now is whether or not the excess shift of the perihelion of Mercury is real and has been properly explained in terms of General Relativity, or if there are other reasons for the observations. There are significant arguments that General Relativity has not been proven experimentally, and that it contains mathematical errors that invalidate its predictions. Vankov has analyzed Einstein’s 1915 derivation and concludes that when an inconsistency is corrected, there is no perihelion shift at all! ”

Einstein’s Explanation of Perihelion Motion of Mercury
Hua Di
Academician, Russian Academy of Cosmonautics
Research Fellow (ret.), Stanford University

From Unsolved Problems in Special and General Relativity (Archive)


  “ Einstein’s general theory of relativity cannot explain Mercury’s perihelion motion. He obtained “for the planet Mercury, a perihelion advance of 43” per century” by an incorrect integral calculus and many arbitrary approximations. His formula (1) is a poorly patched wrong result, tailored specially for Mercury. That is why his formula (1) fails to explain the perihelion motions for Earth and Mars. Einstein was unfair to blame “the small eccentricities of the orbits of these planets” for his failure. To sum up, Einstein’s general theory of relativity is dubious. ”