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Repeating the Experiment that Made Einstein Famous


An attempt to measure the solar deflection of stars during the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse to the highest precision ever realized


In 1919, shortly after Einstein’s theory of General Relativity predicted a very small effect, teams of scientists attempted to measure this effect during an eclipse seen in Africa and Brazil.  The results made front-page headlines and catapulted Einstein to world-wide fame.  The experiment is very difficult, and even after additional attempts as recently as 1973, the eclipse results have never been better than about 6%. With modern technology (an NP101is telescope provided by Tele Vue, a Microline ML8051CCD camera provided by Finger Lakes, and a tripod provided by Software Bisque), this historic experiment was repeated without an army of workers moving 6 tons of equipment to another continent.  With astrometric advice from the US Naval Observatory and careful preparation, I set up in Wyoming to perform this experiment, the most difficult challenge of my career. I expect to complete the experiment with a precision of 2%. 


August 28, 2017 update:  Success!  Perfect focus, perfect exposures, perfect timing, perfect tracking, no wind, no clouds, excellent seeing.  For the first time since 1919, everything worked as planned!


February 9, 2018 update:  The analysis is completed and a technical paper submitted to an astronomical journal.  Result: L = 1.7512, in perfect agreement with the theoretical value.



(L)   Commemorative license plate, ordered in May 2017    (R)  Don and Carol, next to equipment on custom base built by Steve Lang.

(Clicking on either photo takes you my 2017 experiment web page.)

Astronomy Links

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Jupiter, April 9, 2004 (my highest resolution Jovian image)

Stellar Products was the first company to manufacture standard adaptive optics systems to both amateur and professional astronomers. The AO-2 adaptive optics system provided image stabilization for planetary photography. The AO-5 adaptive optics system will provide correction of defocus and astigmatism as well as image stabilization. Either of these systems allows the astronomer to improve his images to the limit of his telescope.

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Mars, August 9, 2003, using a webcam


Saturn, December 29, 2000, using AO-2 system


Jupiter, January 7, 2001, using AO-2 system

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(For best viewing, please maximize your monitor brightness and adjust the contrast until you can see each of the 17 gray scales shown here)

Recent Images and Movies of Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and stellar seeing are now posted in the Image Gallery (updated October 28, 2005).

FOR MORE INFORMATION, click on these links:

Image Gallery

Adaptive Optics Tutorials and Products

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All content is Copyright 2005-2018 by Don Bruns

All text and images are owned by Stellar Products, 1992-2018. Any use by others without permission of Stellar Products is prohibited. For information on commercial use of any of these images, click here.

Web page last updated February 9, 2018.