Crucial Tests of the Existence of a Solar Quadrupole Moment.

by J. J. Gilvarry

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A rebuttal to proposals that the solar oblateness thesis of Dicke and Goldenberg be tested by determining whether the orbit of Mercury does in fact regress by 3.4 seconds per century as predicted. Such observation would not represent a crucial test, since it falls within the limits permitted by the probable error in the corresponding residual. Moreover, for any reasonable orientation of the Sun's presumed gravitational quadrupole moment, the actual rate of variation of the node of Mercury's orbit is less than the claimed value by at least a factor of 10. The solar oblateness cannot be determined by observation of any natural planet; a crucial test would seem to depend on radar observation through transponders of artificial planets of small mean distance and high eccentricity. 6 pp. Refs.

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