02.01.

Discovery of the Planet Vulcan Announced – 1860

Discovery of the Planet Vulcan Announced – 1860

Since it was supposed to be closest to the Sun of all the planets, it should have been the warmest. French mathematician Le Verrier, who predicted its existence, called it Vulcan precisely because of this luminescence.

On this day in 1860 during the session of the Academy of Sciences in Paris, the discovery of a new planet called Vulcan was announced. Apparently it was located between Mercury and the Sun. Since it was supposed to be closest to the Sun of all the planets, it should have been the warmest.

French mathematician Le Verrier, who predicted its existence, called it Vulcan precisely because of this luminescence. In the end it turned out to be one big misconception and that such a planet does not exist. Let us explain how the confusion occurred. Namely, astronomers of the 19th century noted peculiarities in Mercury’s orbit that did not correspond to Newton’s laws.

Mentioned Le Verrier suggested that this irregularity can be explained with the existence of another planet inside Mercury’s orbit. In the year 1859 one amateur astronomer saw a black dot as it passed in front of the Sun and assumed it was Le Verrier’s Vulcan. To Le Verrier that was sufficient to announce on this day the discovery of that planet. Numerous other astronomers reported evidence of Vulcan’s existence; however the planet’s orbit could not be calculated because the observations were different. Thus, no definitive proof of the existence of Vulcan was ever found.

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