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A Decade-Long Engagement: Lick Observatory and General Relativity, 1912-1922

Presentation #236.03 in the session HAD II - Centennial of an Eclipse: The 1922 Expedition that Clinched the Case for General Relativity.

Published onJun 29, 2022
A Decade-Long Engagement: Lick Observatory and General Relativity, 1912-1922

Lick Observatory’s celebrated verification of General Relativity at the 1922 eclipse in Wallal Australia was the consummation of its decade-long, sometimes star-crossed pursuit of a seductive but demanding observational problem. We follow the course of Lick’s involvement from Director W. W. Campbell’s introduction to the Einstein test by Erwin Finlay-Freundlich in 1912, to Lick’s disappointment in 1914 at the cloud-covered and war-darkened Russian eclipse, to the clear skies but inconstant observations at Goldendale Washington in 1918, through Eddington’s thunderous announcement the following year, and finally to its happy conclusion at Wallal. The strength of Lick’s observations owed much to Campbell’s deep experience with the challenges of eclipse observing and his meticulous attention to detail. We illustrate the story with artifacts from the Lick Observatory Historical Collections.

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