The upcoming solar eclipse on 21st August 2017 is not just another solar eclipse. It is more than just a common phenomenon in the United States. It gives scientists the chance to repeat or re-conduct the famous experiment of the 20th century which was done by Arthur Eddington. Arthur Eddington, the astrophysicist, conducted an experiment for proving that gravity can be used for bending light- the core of Albert Einstein’s theory of the general theory.
Don Bruns, the astronomer, is also hoping to repeat the same experiment since no one has done it after 1973. On 30th June 1973, a team for Texas University had gone to Mauritania for conducting the experiment but had failed to do so owing to technical failures.
In the theory of general relativity (1915), Einstein said that light tends to bend around massive objects owing to the fact that space becomes curved around these massive objects too. The theory could be tested after several years when there was a solar eclipse on 29th May 1919.
That time, Eddington set out to measure how much the light deflected from the stars near the sun in the sky. While observing from Africa and Brazil, his team noted down the positions. They observed that the stars which were closer to the solar limb had different positions by a small amount than their usual positions. This result made Einstein famous and correct.
Now, the scientists are trying to redo the experiment to check whether or not it was true. To settle the debate over Eddington’s data, Bruns and other astronomers want to re-check the experiment. Since modern instruments are better and yield accurate measurements for the position of the stars, the measurements needed for re-performing the experiment of Eddington can be refined.
Bruns has prepared himself completely and is venturing to a high altitude location in Wyoming for having a clear sky access to the eclipse. The telescope is kept as accurate as possible and the stabilization of telescope would take place by mounting it on a concrete slab a day before the actual date.
Richard Berry, former editor-in-chief of Astronomy magazine, is also using his in-home observatory to conducting the experiment. He is working along with a group of four students of physics for capturing pictures from different directions. He has already been successful at capturing the spectrographic pictures of the solar corona and now he wants to do this experiment.
This solar eclipse is surely going to be eventful.