predict correctly the observed irregularities in the orbital radius of Uranus. Unfortunately, Adams did not provide an answer - for a number of reasons. In the first place, he was busy redoing his calculations for a different mean distance in an attempt to reduce the error for Flamsteed's 1690 observation. Second, he did not appreciate the importance Airy attached to the question and, third, he thought the answer trivial. When he later corresponded with Airy on the matter, Adams argued that variations in the longitude 0 were linked to variations in orbital distance r through the equation (see Eqn (8.6), p. 269)

This represents the conservation of angular momentum for a planet moving in an elliptic orbit, and Adams believed that even for the perturbed motion of

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