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Solar Oblateness from Archimedes to Dicke

The non-spherical shape of the Sun has been invoked to explain the anomalous precession of Mercury. A brief history of some methods for measuring solar diameter is presented. Archimedes was the first to give upper and lower values for solar diameter in third century before Christ; we also show the method of total eclipses, used after Halley’s observative campaign of 1715 eclipse; the variant of partial eclipses useful to measure different chords of the solar disk; the method of Dicke which correlates oblateness with luminous excess in the equatorial zone.

Comments: 12 pages, 5 figures. To be published in Nuovo Cimento B
Subjects: History and Philosophy of Physics (physics.hist-ph)
DOI: 10.1393/ncb/i2005-10147-7