Upcoming Solar Eclipse Is a Chance to Prove Einstein Right (Again)

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By Jesse Emspak

For some skywatchers, the upcoming total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 is more than just a chance to catch a rare sight of the phenomenon in the United States. It’s also an opportunity to duplicate one of the most famous experiments of the 20th century, which astrophysicist Arthur Eddington performed in an attempt to prove that light could be bent by gravity, a central tenet of Albert Einstein’s theory of general theory.

Amateur astronomer Don Bruns is among those hoping to re-do the experiment. “I thought of it about two years ago. I thought, surely, other people have done it,” he told Live Science. “But no one had done it since 1973,” Bruns said, when a team from the University of Texas went to Mauritania for the solar eclipse on June 30 of that year.

The group ran into technical problems, though, and could not confirm Eddington’s results with much accuracy. Other attempts — such as one made for an eclipse on Feb. 25, 1952, in Khartoum by the National Geographic Society — fared somewhat better.

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