realm of Saturn, namely Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. The search for more such planets has continued to some extent even to this day. In the last century, although, a
flurry of serious speculations were circulating among world class astronomers about the possible existence of a planet not at the outer reaches of the Solar system but
at the inner region of the planetary family, inside the orbit of Mercury. This suspected planet precipitated the exploration of the Sun's immediate neighborhood
resulting in a number of cases where observers have reported such a body.
At one time it was believed that there was a planet even closer to the Sun than Mercury based on unexplained orbital perturbances observed in the latter
caused by the gravitational influence of a supposed heretofore undiscovered object hidden in the Solar glare. It was already known that the point of planet Mercury's
orbit closest to the Sun was progressively 38 seconds per century greater than would be predicted on the basis of Newtonian mechanics. In 1845 a French
astronomer by the name of Urbain Le Verrier (1811-1877), attempted to resolve this problem by proposing the existence of a planet lying inside the orbit of
Mercury which he named Vulcan, after the Roman god of fire and the blacksmith of the gods. Subsequently he began to look for it. Previously he had made
extensive mathematical studies on the motions and variations in planetary orbits and became an expert on the subject in his own right. His confidence was such that
he named his planet before he ever found it. Consequently, Le Verrier was delighted when, in 1859, he received a report from an amateur astronomer by the name
of Dr. Lescarbault, a country physician, who lived in the small town of Orgenes, some 80 miles from Paris. Dr. Lescarbault, who had read some of... [continues]
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