A solar eclipse’s contribution to the Theory of General Relativity

Did you know that a solar eclipse helped to confirm Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity?

1919 Eclipse (Source: F. W. Dyson, A. S. Eddington, and C. Davidson)Back in 1919, Arthur Eddington compared the apparent distance between two stars, with and without the Sun between them. And was able to confirm the theoretical predictions about gravitational lenses (although it now seems that the data were ambiguous at the time).

Anyway, long science lecture cut short, he was able to make that observation with the Sun between the stars because of the total eclipse.

During totality, the stars were visible while the Sun’s position in the sky was still known.

5 more days to the century’s most dramatic eclipse. Wonder what this eclipse will unveil for the world of Science?

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7 Responses to “A solar eclipse’s contribution to the Theory of General Relativity”

  1. Pam Says:

    Real?

  2. stargazer Says:

    The story is real. He took images (like the one above) of the eclipse of the stars around the Sun.

    Without the eclipse, these stars would otherwise not be visible because of the daytime brightness.

    Eddington calculated that the rays of the stars near the Sun would appear to shift slightly because their path would have been curved by the Sun’s gravitational field.

    Something like that. :-)

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