Foundations of Physics 15 (4):497-515 (1985)

Abstract
A gyroscope in orbit about a central rotating mass undergoes relativistic nutational oscillations in addition to the well-known precessional motions. The amplitude of the oscillation is proportional to the angular momentum of the rotating mass and its period is the Fokker period of geodetic precession. The amplitude is maximum for a polar orbit and vanishes if the orbit is equatorial. This nodding effect is due to a small divisor phenomenon involving the Fokker frequency, and its existence implies that the applicability of the post-Newtonian approximation of general relativity is limited in time. The dynamical significance of the new effect for the relative motion of neighboring test masses in the field of a rotating mass as well as for the restricted three-body problem in general relativity is investigated and the possibility of its detection is briefly discussed
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DOI 10.1007/BF01889284
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