The Planet Vulcan - are we still seeing it?

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posted on Feb, 7 2013 @ 05:44 AM
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A few people have been posting about seeing things near the sun lately. Back in the 1860s they were seeing them too. I came across this article in an old newspaper that explains the discovery of the planet Vulcan. It was supposed to have been closer to the sun than Mercury. Some were pretty sure they had found it, even giving all the statistics. Eventually it was decided that the sightings were not a planet but various comets, asteroids, sun spots.

The newspaper article was digitized by computer so it contains a lot of mistakes, I have corrected the important ones but not all. I hope it is not too hard to read. You can read the original scan here if it makes it easier.
TROVE



Monday 31 March 1873 pg 3
To the Editor of the Bendigo Advertiser

THE PLANET VULCAN.

Sir,-Since writing my last letter a Captain Baker, of Goldsborough, has asserted that he wit- nessed the transit of Vulcan on the 21st ultimo. He saw a number of what appeared sun-spot* in the morning. and among them was one which pre sented a peculiarity different from sun-spots generally, it ha no shading, i.e., penumbra. in consequence of clouds ho was unable to observe from about noon till about five pm, at which latter time a break occurred which enabled him to see tho peculiar spot referred to. It had then shifted its place considerably across tho solar disc; amd these are the circumstances that made him positive that lie had witnessed the transit. But there is'nothing really hero to prove that the transit occurred. Generally when tho sun's surface is much affected with spots there is a good deal of disturbance of the photosphere, and Mr. Ellery says that " small round spots without penumbra were frequently cropping up."

Again, a Sun-spot will appear to shift its position, when at the same time it is only carried along by the rotatory motion of tho luminary, Five hours would be a sufficient. time to notice such an apparent shifting. Besides, Vulcan, if such a body exist, would transit very rapidly; and, at the lowest calculation of its velo- city, would pass completely across the solar disc in five hours, hence the necessity of the frequent observations on the 24th. Furthermore, no transit was observed at the Melbourne Observatory, although no ten minutes elapsed without a clear view of the sun ; and the best instruments were there available with tho most efficiont observers to use them. It is possible that Captain Baker has been incorrectly reported in the Melbourne papers, as I myseif have.
The Aye gave me the credit of having been successful ia observing the transit, while I merely directed attention to a peculiar dot, possibly Captain Baker's, which appeared to pre- sent certain peculiarities, but which must have been an unusually sharp break ii. tho photosphere, or one of the 11 croppings-up" referred to by Mr. Ellery.

Although at first I thought there was a bare possibility of the dot being tho planet, yet on learning the result of the observations at the Mel- bourne Observatory, I could of course entertain no idea that such was the c ise ; and this, I think, is plainly stated in my first letter to you on the sub- ject. If Mr. Tibbut, of Windsor, had read thia letter iustcad of the notice of it which appeared in the Age, he would not have gouo to the trouble of refuting my statements. There can be no doubt but that, if the transit at all occurred, it must have been observed at the Melbourne Observatory, unless there was negligence on the part of the observers, and there is not the shadow of a suspicion that such was the case. I will now proceed ty fulfil my . promise in giving an account of tho extraordinary means by which the planet was discovered, or supposed to be discovered. Some of your readers will remember how the farthest away of all the planets, Neptune, was discovered by calculations deduced from c ertain perturbations of Uranus. This way one of tin; grandest of astro nomical achievements. To a distinguished French man, M. Lo Verrier, and a no less distinguished Englishman, Mr, Adams, this discovery was due.

In a somowhat similar way the former gentleman, after a laborious examination of tho theory of tho orbit, of Mercury, and tho discovery of an error in tho perihelion motion of that body, predicated one of two things - either that tho mass of Venus, tho next planet had beenunderestimated to at least a tenth part, or that there existed a new planet between Mercury ami the Sun. As soon as this was made known to the scientific world, a hitherto obscure French physician, namfed Lescarhault, came to the front. Ho said he had observed the passage of an object the sun's disc, which he thought might be a new planet, but had abstained from giving publicity to it until he confirmed his impro?? by other observations. Lo Verrior visited him, main taining at first a strict incognito, and satisfied him self that tho observations were reliable, not with standing" that the instruments were imperfect and the little observatory not in tho best possible condition From those observations Lo Verrior calculated that tho new planet, since called Vulcan, had a mean distance from tho sun a little more than a third of that of Mercury, or About 13,082,000 miles; and that a revolution in it's orbit is completed in 19 days 17 hours, giving about 18 revolutions every year, and of curse frequent opportunities for observing it. Although repeatedly watched for tho new planet was not again sightcd till the 20th March, 1862, by Mr. Lummis of Manchester, who observed it for about '20 minutes, and, so that 'there should bo no mistake, he directed a friend's attention to it.

The spot which they saw had a clearly defined circular form, and was passing across the* tolar disc with a rapid proper motion. Its apparent diameter was calculated at about 7'', and during the 20 minutes ot observation it passed over 12 minutes of arc. This latter however was afterwards corrected by Mr. Hind, to whom the circumstances were communicated to 6 minutes of arc. From tho observations of Mr Lummis, other calculations were made as .to the mean distance from the sun and time of revolution of tho new planet, and these, in one instance especially, aro found to tally remarkably with La Verrier's.




posted on Feb, 7 2013 @ 05:45 AM
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cont.
Valz gives tho mean distamce 12,174.000 miles, and tho period of revolu tion at, 17 days 13 hours; while Radan gives the first at 13,174,000 miles, ami the second at 19 days 22 hours. The periods of our year to which tho tran sits of the planets would bo continued were also de- duced, and these are between the 25th March and the 10th April, and between the 27th September and the 14th October. There can be no doubt that the transits occur regularly enough, hut ihe difficulty at present is to hit upon the exact time. One or two lucky observations by skilful and experienced men would, doubtless, cause the difficulty to vanish for ever. But before Le Verricr'a statement of the alternatives in con nection Witli thd perturbations of Mercury, there were many records of small round spots crossing the solar disc, presenting the characteristics of planetary bodies; and these are stated curiously enough, to have occurred in the month of October, one of tho transit periods of Vulcan sinco calcu lated. Kepler's third law also gives corroborative evidence of the existonce of Vulcan, but it may he just posiblo that enough attention has not been paid to tho other alternative, presented by Le Verrier, viz., tint the perturbations in the perihelion motion of Mercury are caused by tho mass of Venus, It is left to future labors to provo which is the disturbing cause; but at present tho balanco of evidence is certainly in favor of the existence of a new and interior planet to Mercury.

Yours very obediently
D KENNEDY.
Mackenzie-street, 7th April.

Here is some more information on it
www.youtube.com...
edit on 7/2/13 by Cinrad because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 7 2013 @ 05:56 AM
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Very cool find


I cant really add to the convo as I am not even an amateur astronomer, but I love history and to read an article on astronomy from that era was very interesting. Thanks for a peek into yesterday!



posted on Feb, 7 2013 @ 06:42 AM
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The odd orbit of Mercury is due to relativistic effects. This was not known about until Einstein came along and using his theories the orbit of Mercury can be calculated EXACTLY.

No vulcan, sorry, not even in fiction, the Romulan miners went back in time and blew it up.



posted on Feb, 8 2013 @ 08:37 AM
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Originally posted by yorkshirelad
The odd orbit of Mercury is due to relativistic effects. This was not known about until Einstein came along and using his theories the orbit of Mercury can be calculated EXACTLY.

No vulcan, sorry, not even in fiction, the Romulan miners went back in time and blew it up.
We are still seeing the same things...comets, meteors, and sunspots, which were probably what was mistaken for Vulcan, but we are better equipped to observe them today.

The fictional vulcan was blown up using a time machine, but don't despair, because in fiction, someone else can use another time machine to go back before the first guys in the time machine to stop them from blowing it up. (or was it imploded?)



posted on Feb, 8 2013 @ 09:07 AM
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Originally posted by Cinrad
Back in the 1860s they were seeing them too. I came across this article in an old newspaper that explains the discovery of the planet Vulcan.


Nice. I wasn't aware of that one.



posted on Feb, 8 2013 @ 04:12 PM
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Originally posted by Cinrad
A few people have been posting about seeing things near the sun lately.


Those things are inevitably camera lens flares, reflections, or atmospheric phenomena like sun dogs. Mercury is fairly hard to see with unaided eye, due to being so close to the Sun, so I can't imagine people casually spotting a hypothetical planet even closer than Mercury.

The Sun is now under the watchful eyes of STEREO and SOHO spacecraft, and we can see the known planets and comets passing through their field of view. If Vulcan existed, it would have been spotted.

Incidentally, I wonder if a planet's orbit closer to the Sun than Mercury's would be stable. Perhaps it would be disrupted by the tidal forces and the planet would fall into the Sun.

en.wikipedia.org...
edit on 8-2-2013 by wildespace because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 8 2013 @ 04:14 PM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


The fictional vulcan was blown up using a time machine, but don't despair, because in fiction, someone else can use another time machine to go back before the first guys in the time machine to stop them from blowing it up.

No. Absolutely not. The destruction of Vulcan is a fixed point in time. It cannot be altered (unless The Doctor gets really, really angry).



posted on Feb, 8 2013 @ 06:41 PM
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reply to post by wildespace
 


Maybe it did and no one noticed? Is it possible that something was captured in to orbit, the orbit wasnt stable and therefore they kept seeing it and then not, and then eventually got sucked in to the sun? I think the orbits of something big enough to be seen would take many millenia to stabalize but I dont know really. What does jupiter or saturn collecting a new moon look like for example?
edit on 8/2/13 by Cinrad because: (no reason given)


Off topic now, I was perousing more articles and found this one about why the sun is hot - too funny!

Why the sun is hot
What is the thing they saw in the underlined bit?
edit on 8/2/13 by Cinrad because: (no reason given)





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