Page:Newton's Principia (1846).djvu/408

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[Book III.
the mathematical principles

the sun. In other cases, the distances of those centres are always less; and therefore, since that centre of gravity is in perpetual rest, the sun, according to the various positions of the planets, must perpetually be moved every way, but will never recede far from that centre.

Cor. Hence the common centre of gravity of the earth, the sun, and all the planets, is to be esteemed the centre of the world; for since the earth, the sun, and all the planets, mutually gravitate one towards another, and are therefore, according to their powers of gravity, in perpetual agitation, as the Laws of Motion require, it is plain that their moveable centres can not be taken for the immovable centre of the world. If that body were to be placed in the centre, towards which other bodies gravitate most (according to common opinion), that privilege ought to be allowed to the sun; but since the sun itself is moved, a fixed point is to be chosen from which the centre of the sun recedes least, and from which it would recede yet less if the body of the sun were denser and greater, and therefore less apt to be moved.


The planets move in ellipses which have their common focus in the centre of the sun; and, by radii drawn to that centre, they describe areas proportional to the times of description.

We have discoursed above of these motions from the Phænomena. Now that we know the principles on which they depend, from those principles we deduce the motions of the heavens à priori. Because the weights of the planets towards the sun are reciprocally as the squares of their distances from the sun's centre, if the sun was at rest, and the other planets did not mutually act one upon another, their orbits would be ellipses, having the sun in their common focus; and they would describe areas proportional to the times of description, by Prop, I and XI, and Cor. 1, Prop. XIII, Book I. But the mutual actions of the planets one upon another are so very small, that they may be neglected; and by Prop. LXVI, Book I, they less disturb the motions of the planets around the sun in motion than if those motions were performed about the sun at rest.

It is true, that the action of Jupiter upon Saturn is not to be neglected; for the force of gravity towards Jupiter is to the force of gravity towards the sun (at equal distances, Cor. 2, Prop. VIII) as 1 to 1067; and therefore in the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, because the distance of Saturn from Jupiter is to the distance of Saturn from the sun almost as 4 to 9, the gravity of Saturn towards Jupiter will be to the gravity of Saturn towards the sun as 81 to 16 1067; or, as 1 to about 211. And hence arises a perturbation of the orb of Saturn in every conjunction of this planet with Jupiter, so sensible, that astronomers are puzzled with it. As the planet