The May 29, 1919 eclipse, that happened 100-years ago this past week, will always be remembered as a key “turning point” in the history of physics. “Lights All Askew in the Heavens” exclaimed a New York Times headline while The Pittsburgh Gazette Times declared that the “Elusive ‘Fourth Dimension’ Finally Proven to Exist == Newton Theory Refuted.” Newspaper editors in 1919 were grasping at straws to explain the result of an experiment that crazily proved that star light was bent by the gravity of the Sun. Their articles on the subject introduced the names of English astronomer, Arthur Eddington, and the German scientist Albert Einstein to the public. It was Eddington that announced to the world the results of an experiment he organized to test a theory put forth by the then obscure German physicist. What made Eddington’s announcement unusual was that he was an English scientist propping up a theory from a German scientist in the acrimonious aftermath of the First World War. This was just a few months after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
Optical physicist Dr. Don Bruns recently updated Tele Vue on his preparation for measuring star deflections near the sun during August’s total solar eclipse. As explained on our March 21st blog post (“Tele Vue NP101is to Test Einstein’s General Relativity”), when first measured at the 1919 total solar eclipse, the deflections confirmed Einstein’s general theory of relativity (and made Einstein a household name). Over the years though, the accuracy of the 1919 experiment has been called into question and subsequent visual light attempts during eclipses has not been “stellar”. According to Dr. Bruns, “astronomers last repeated the experiment in 1973, achieving an error of 11%”. This time around he hopes to achieve an accuracy of 1% using readily available amateur equipment. Instead of hauling a big 16” diameter refractor to the eclipse site – as in the 1919 experiment – he’ll be using a much more compact Tele Vue NP-101is telescope. Continue reading “Tele Vue TV-NP101is Relativity Experiment Update”