Orbitals of Mercury
An AP Physics student needs data on the orbitals of Mercury,
he is studying the Theory of Relativity but cannot find such data
and needs to conduct an experiment - please help us find this information
- The Science Resource Center from The American School in Japan
Yes, it does look like the planet Mercury, not the element
mercury (though special relativity is needed to understand
the element mercury as well). If you look in, for example
"The Encyclopedia of Physics", under Relativity, General,
there is a section "Tests and predictions of general relativity"
which describes the Mercury precession problem. If you want to
see this worked out, I believe the best book on the subject
is Misner, Thorne and Wheeler's on General Relativity - skip
to any section that discusses Mercury (if there is one - I do not
have a copy in my office so I am not sure it is actually there).
For astronomical data you will have to ask an astronomer. The
effect is pretty small: 43 seconds of arc per century, so
observations of high precision or over a long period of time
are required (together with complicated calculations of the effects
of all the other planets on Mercury).
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Update: June 2012