May Monthly Meeting

When: Wednesday the 1st of May at 7:30 pm

Where: The meeting will be held in the Board Room at NZ Post House on Waterloo Quay, Wellington, and not at Space Place, Carter Observatory. Enter from the south side of the building and a receptionist will point the way to the meeting room (venue change is only for May, back to normal next month).

Main Talk: The Eclipse that changed Gravity – Alexander Maxwell

This month’s meeting will contain the following:

  • Night sky in May
  • Astronomy News
  • Main talk at 8:00 pm

May Meeting Poster

Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity enjoyed a smashing success, explaining the tides, the oblate shape of the earth, and the orbits of celestial bodies. Indeed, when the French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier noticed small discrepancies between Newtonian predictions and the motions of the planets, he used those discrepancies to predict the location of Neptune. Le Verrier also noticed discrepancies in the orbit of Mercury, and his proposed explanation for Mercury’s orbit launched an equivalent search for a planet that came to be known as Vulcan. In 1915, however, Albert Einstein proposed an even more radical explanation. This talk commemorates Arthur Eddington’s observation of the 1919 solar eclipse and its dramatic consequences for the history of astrophysics.

Alexander Maxwell is a Senior Lecturer at the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science & International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington.