The first attempts to measure light deflection by the Sun

Soon after Einstein’s calculation of the effect of the Sun’s gravitational field on the propagation of light in 1911, astronomers around the world tried to measure and verify the value. If the first attempts in Brazil in 1912 or Imperial Russia in 1914 had been successful, they would have proven Einstein wrong.

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Fig. 1: Astronomers gathered in Passa Quatro, in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, for the observation of the October 1912 total solar eclipse.

Courtesy of Biblioteca do Observatório Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fig. 2: General view of Cristina, in Minas Gerais, Brazil, taken in October 1912.

Courtesy of Observatorio Astronómico de Córdoba - Museo Astronómico, Córdoba, Argentina

Fig. 3: Córdoba Observatory settlement.

Courtesy of Observatorio Astronómico de Córdoba - Museo Astronómico, Córdoba, Argentina

Fig. 4: Intramercurial cameras.

Courtesy of Observatorio Astronómico de Córdoba - Museo Astronómico, Córdoba, Argentina

Fig. 5: General view of the Córdoba Observatory settlement.

Courtesy of Observatorio Astronómico de Córdoba - Museo Astronómico, Córdoba, Argentina

Fig. 6: Lick Observatory settlement in 1914.

Courtesy Special Collections, University Library, University of California Santa Cruz, Lick Observatory Records

Fig. 7: Solar eclipse of 1914, in Crimea.

Courtesy of Observatorio Astronómico de Córdoba - Museo Astronómico, Córdoba, Argentina

Fig. 8: ’Einstein–Vulcan’ or intramercurial cameras.

Courtesy Special Collections, University Library, University of California Santa Cruz, Lick Observatory Records

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Acknowledgements

L.C.B.C. acknowledges partial support from Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES)—Finance Code 001, from Brazil, as well as the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the H2020-MSCA-RISE-2017 grant no. FunFiCO-777740.

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Correspondence to Luís C. B. Crispino.

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Crispino, L.C.B., Paolantonio, S. The first attempts to measure light deflection by the Sun. Nat Astron 4, 6–9 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-019-0995-5

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