Relativistic Timescale Analysis Suggests Lunar Theory Revision

Steven D. Deines, Carol A. Williams

Abstract: The International Standard (SI) second of the atomic clock was calibrated to match the Ephemeris Time (ET) second in a mutual four year effort between the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the United States Naval Observatory (USNO). The ephemeris time is "clocked" by observing the elapsed time it takes the Moon to cross two positions (usually occultation of stars relative to a position on Earth) and dividing that time span into the predicted seconds according to the lunar equations of motion. The last revision of the equations of motion was the Improved Lunar Ephemeris (ILE), which was based on E. W. Brown's lunar theory. Brown classically derived the lunar equations from a purely Newtonian gravity with no relativistic compensations. However, ET is very theory dependent and is affected by relativity, which was not included in the ILE. To investigate the relativistic effect a new, noninertial metric for a gravitated, translationally accelerated and rotating reference frame has three sets of contributions, namely (I) Earth's velocity, (2) the static solar gravity field and (3) the centripetal acceleration from Earth's orbit. This last term can be characterized as a pseudogravitational acceleration. This metric predicts a time dilation calculated to be -0.787481 seconds in one year. The effect of this dilation would make the ET timescale run slower than had been originally determined. Interestingly, this value is within 2 percent of the average leap second insertion rate, which is the result of the divergence between International Atomic Time (TAI) and Earth's rotational time called Universal Time (UT or UTI). Because the predictions themselves are significant, regardless of the comparison to TAI and UT, the authors will be rederiving the lunar ephemeris model in the manner of Brown with the relativistic time dilation effects from the new metric to determine a revised, relativistic ephemeris timescale that could be used to determine UT free of leap second adjustments.
Published in: Proceedings of the 26th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting
December 6 - 8, 1994
Hyatt Regency Reston Town Center
Reston, Virginia
Pages: 209 - 220
Cite this article: Deines, Steven D., Williams, Carol A., "Relativistic Timescale Analysis Suggests Lunar Theory Revision," Proceedings of the 26th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting, Reston, Virginia, December 1994, pp. 209-220.
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