Solar eclipse image taken aboard Gemini 12.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA
Can an Eclipse Change Gravity? (Updated!)
News story originally written on September 20, 1999
It will take many more months before the final decision, but scientists are already studying the latest data. The last solar eclipse of the millennium served as a great opportunity to test a phenomenon found by Maurice Allais in 1954. Allais believed that a solar eclipse can affect Earth's gravity.
The scientists in charge of the experiment have received most of the data. Pendulums were set up in many countries, with some in the path of the eclipse and others not. Some of the early results are interesting.
Video cameras taped the pendulum movements before, during and after the solar eclipse. Although no change was viewed in the pendulums outside of the eclipse path, two different sites in Europe revealed exciting results. These researchers, which were inside the path of the eclipse, discovered a change in the pendulum's path. If the results are correct, then another mystery was just created. Why would gravity change only in the areas under the eclipse' path?
The results were taken by only looking at the video. The tapes will be studied frame by frame, which will allow scientists to analyze them very closely.
Koczor says much of the data still needs to be analyzed, but the current results have stumped the scientific community. "It's easy if we see nothing," Koczor says. But if there's something there, "it's a different ball game."
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
An eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Earth passes through the Moon's shadow. A total eclipse of the Sun takes place only during a new moon, when the Moon is directly between the Sun and the Earth. When...more
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on October 29th at 2:19 p.m. EST. The weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit. This was the United States' 123rd...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials want an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting to be...more
A coronal mass ejection (CME) happened on the Sun early last month. The material that was thrown out from this explosion passed the ACE spacecraft. The SWICS instrument on ACE has produced a new and very...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service called forests the "heart and lungs of the world." This is because forests filter air and water pollution, absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen, and maintain...more