Celestial mechanics

Celestial mechanics

Is called celestial mechanics to the science that studies the movement and mutual gravitational attractions of celestial bodies in space.

His birth can be made to coincide with the publication by Isaac Newton (1624-1727) of his Principia, that is, with the formulation of the theory of universal gravitation. Continuators of this science were, in the eighteenth century, the Swiss physicist and mathematician Euler, who made precise calculations on the movement of the Moon, the major planets and comets, and the French Clairaut who calculated the disturbing effect of the planets About Halley's comet.

In the following century, the most important discovery due to celestial mechanics is, without a doubt, the location of the planet Neptune from the disturbances measured on Uranus. The calculation was performed independently by the scientists J.C. Adams and U. Leverner.

Modern developments in celestial mechanics allow the calculation of the trajectories of the probes for the exploration of the solar system. Thanks to the help of the computers it has been possible to take advantage of the passage of the probes next to the planets to obtain fantastic accelerations and route deviations, which have led the probes themselves to successive appointments with other celestial bodies.

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Mauna Kea (Observatory)Mercalli (scale of)