Eclipse History – Eclipse 1919

Eclipse History – Eclipse 1919

Perhaps the most famous eclipse of modern times is the one of May 29, 1919. Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity described the effect mass had on space as producing a curvature of space. The moon’s gravitational field is too weak for our technology to measure the curvature of space in its vicinity. The sun, on the other hand, does have enough mass to produce a measurable effect on the space near it. However, the sun is so bright that detecting stars near it is effectively impossible. EXCEPT during a total solar eclipse. Einstein published his paper in 1915. The next eclipse where a successful expedition was mounted was 1919. On an island of the coast of north Africa (Principe), Arthur Eddington’s team took this photograph. (Another part of his team was in Brazil.) The rest, as they say, is history. Detailed information is available here: http://cds.cern.ch/record/489163/files/0102462.pdf

This black and white negative might not look like much but there is a terrific story associated with it.

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