Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect
The Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect, a hoax phenomenon stated to cause a noticeable short-term reduction in gravity on
Earth, was an invention for April Fools' Dayby the English astronomer Patrick Moorebroadcast on BBC Radio 2on 1 April 1976.
Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore (born
4 March, 1923) was and still is the of British television astronomers, boasting a long career in public service broadcasting, a quick-fire manner of speech, and a number of eccentric habits, including the wearing of a monocle. A wartime navigator in the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Societyin 1945 and has presented BBC Television's " The Sky at Night" programme since 1957. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empirein 1968. Above all, Moore has a high level of public recognition in the United Kingdom as a respected astronomer. [http://www.hicelebs.com/profile/patrick_moore/biography.html Patrick Moore Biography] online at hicelebs.com (accessed 27 March 2008)]
planet Jupiteris two and a half times as massive as all of the other planets in the Solar Systemcombined. [Beeb, Reta, "Jupiter: The Giant Planet" (Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institute Press, 2nd edition, 1996, ISBN 1560986859)] Plutois so small and so remote from the Sunand the Earththat it was not identified as a planet until 1930. [Tombaugh, Clyde W., "The Search for the Ninth Planet, Pluto" (Astronomical Society of the Pacific Leaflet No. 209, July 1946) reprinted in "Mercury" vol. 8, no. 1 (January/February 1979) pp 4-6] In 2006, the International Astronomical Unionreclassified it as a dwarf planet, deciding that it belongs to a belt of many similar small objects. [citenews|publisher=International Astronomical Union|title=IAU 2006 General Assembly: Result of the IAU Resolution votes|url=http://www.iau.org/iau0603.414.0.html|year=2006|accessdate=2008-01-26]
Events of April 1976
On April 1, 1976, Moore stated to radio listeners that an astronomical event would take place at 9:47 a.m. that day, a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Pluto, which was expected to have an effect observable everywhere. As Pluto passed behind Jupiter, it would briefly cause a powerful combination of the two planets'
gravitationwhich would noticeably decrease gravity on Earth. If listeners were to jump into the air at that exact moment, they would find they felt a floating sensation. [http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/aprilfool/comments/865/ Planetary Alignment Decreases Gravity] online at museumofhoaxes.com (accessed 27 March 2008)] [ [http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/magazine/16-04/st_best 10 Best] at wired.com (accessed 27 March 2008)]
Soon after 9:47 on that morning, the
BBCbegan to receive hundreds of telephone calls from people reporting they had observed the decrease in gravity. One woman who called in even stated that she and eleven friends had been sitting and had been "wafted from their chairs and orbited gently around the room". [ [http://books.guardian.co.uk/extracts/story/0,,2046440,00.html Fooling around] , book extract in "The Guardian" dated March 30, 2007, online at books.guardian.com (accessed 27 March 2008)]
The story was quickly revealed as an
April Fools' Day hoax. Martin Wainwright later wrote in " The Guardian" [ [http://lisavalentine.wordpress.com/2007/04/01/april-fool/ Cotton Knickers for Africa] at lisavalentine.wordpress.com (accessed 27 March 2008)] cquote| Patrick Moore was an ideal presenter to carry off an astronomical hoax. As weighty as Richard Dimbleby, with an added air of batty enthusiasm that only added to his credibility...
In 1980, Moore collaborated with
Clyde W. Tombaugh, the man who had discovered Pluto in 1930, to publish a new book about the dwarf planet. [Moore, Patrick, & Tombaugh, Clyde W., "Out of the Darkness, the Planet Pluto" (Harrisburg, Pa., Stackpole Books; and London, Lutterworth Press, 1980)]
Pluto in fiction
Jupiter in fiction
*Tombaugh, Clyde W., "Pluto" in "The Astronomy Encyclopaedia", ed. Patrick Moore (London, M. Beazley, 1987)
* [http://sirpatrickmoore.com/ sirpatrickmoore.com] - official site
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