Physics and Chemistry

Light, Sound, and Other Waves

How did a total solar eclipse confirm Einstein’s theory of general relativity?

When formulating his theory of general relativity, Albert Einstein proposed that the curvature of space near a massive object like the sun would bend light that passed close by. For example, a star seen near the edge of the sun during an eclipse would appear to have shifted by 1.75 arc seconds from its usual place. The British astronomer Arthur Eddington (1882–1944) confirmed Einstein’s hypothesis during an eclipse on May 29, 1919. The subsequent attention given to Eddington’s findings helped establish Einstein’s reputation as one of science’s greatest figures.


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