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Paper: The Eddington Experiment and the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
Volume: 533, ASP 2021: Sharing Best Practices – AstronomyTeaching and Public Engagement
Page: 21
Authors: Sparks, R.; Seguel, J.; Pompea, S.
Abstract: An early test of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity was carried out in 1919 during a total solar eclipse. Two teams of astronomers led by British astronomer Arthur Eddington measured the deflection of starlight near the totally eclipsed Sun, an effect predicted by General Relativity. During the 2019 total solar eclipse in Chile, a team from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (now NOIRLab) and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory led a team of students from the University of La Serena in an attempt to recreate the historic observations of the Eddington Experiment. The observations used a modern Celestron 11 inch telescope equipped with a Hyperstar system to provide a generous field of view and a high speed ZWO 1600MM Pro camera. Analyzing the data to achieve the necessary precision to detect the predicted effect has proved challenging (and exacerbated by the inability to meet in person due to COVID-19). The low elevation of the Sun during totality resulted in poor seeing and increased atmospheric refraction. The 2024 total solar eclipse passes over and near many colleges and universities with strong physics and astronomy programs. This eclipse provides an opportunity for astronomy students to attempt to recreate this historic observation. The conditions will be more favorable as the Sun elevation will be much higher than in 2019 and the length of totality will be longer giving more time to make the critical observations. Our goal is to recruit faculty and students teams near the path of totality to make observations during totality to recreate the famous Eddington Experiment in 2024. We will share the lessons we learned from the 2019 observations and begin the process of bringing together groups from various colleges and universities interested in making observations in 2024.
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