, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 329-338

The definition of the ecliptic

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The ecliptic as a mean orbital plane of the Sun in Le Verrier's theory is a mean orbital plane determined from the secular parts of the longitude of the ascending node and the inclination of the Sun with respect to a reference plane. On the other hand, the ecliptic in Newcomb's theory is so chosen that the latitude with respect to his ecliptic does not have cosg nor sing whereg is the mean anomaly of the Sun. The two definitions are really different in spite of their apparent similarity. Standish (1981) defined the ecliptic from a kinematical point of view, and it is shown that the ecliptic defined by Standish (in the rotating sense) does coincide with the ecliptic defined by Newcomb.