Report of the International Astronomical Union Division I Working Group on Precession and the Ecliptic

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Abstract

The IAU Working Group on Precession and the Equinox looked at several solutions for replacing the precession part of the IAU 2000A precession–nutation model, which is not consistent with dynamical theory. These comparisons show that the (Capitaine et al., Astron. Astrophys., 412, 2003a) precession theory, P03, is both consistent with dynamical theory and the solution most compatible with the IAU 2000A nutation model. Thus, the working group recommends the adoption of the P03 precession theory for use with the IAU 2000A nutation. The two greatest sources of uncertainty in the precession theory are the rate of change of the Earth’s dynamical flattening, ΔJ2, and the precession rates (i.e. the constants of integration used in deriving the precession). The combined uncertainties limit the accuracy in the precession theory to approximately 2 mas cent−2.

Given that there are difficulties with the traditional angles used to parameterize the precession, zA, ζA, and θA, the working group has decided that the choice of parameters should be left to the user. We provide a consistent set of parameters that may be used with either the traditional rotation matrix, or those rotation matrices described in (Capitaine et al., Astron. Astrophys., 412, 2003a) and (Fukushima Astron. J., 126, 2003).

We recommend that the ecliptic pole be explicitly defined by the mean orbital angular momentum vector of the Earth–Moon barycenter in the Barycentric Celestial Reference System (BCRS), and explicitly state that this definition is being used to avoid confusion with previous definitions of the ecliptic.

Finally, we recommend that the terms precession of the equator and precession of the ecliptic replace the terms lunisolar precession and planetary precession, respectively.

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Hilton, J.L., Capitaine, N., Chapront, J. et al. Report of the International Astronomical Union Division I Working Group on Precession and the Ecliptic. Celestial Mech Dyn Astr 94, 351–367 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10569-006-0001-2

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Keywords

  • precession and the ecliptic
  • reference systems