The discovery by Seth C. Chandler (1891) that the motion of the pole (the reality of which had been established by K.F. Küstner and by the simultaneous latitude observations at Honolulu and Berlin by German astronomers) resulted from two components i.e. a free circular motion with a period of 427 days and a forced elliptical motion with a period of 365.25 days, raised considerable interest in the scientific community of astronomers and geophysicists.
The celebrated Mécanique Céleste of Tisserand (1890) had been published just one year before at a time when doubts still persisted and arguments could be presented in favor of the fixed pole. Starting with Tisserand’s arguments, we describe in this paper the impact of the successive contributions by A. Greenhill, S. Newcomb, Th. Sloudsky, S. Hough, G. Herglotz, A. Love, J. Larmor and H. Poincaré to the solution of the problems raised by the Chandler period.
The lines of reasoning taken by these eminent scientists were rigorously correct so that, after about one hundred years, contemporary researchers, who benefit from a far better knowledge of the inner structure of the Earth and are able to take advantage of modern computing power, do not contradict any of their conclusions and instead refine them with an accuracy which was not imaginable one century ago.