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The giant planet Jupiter, which has more than two and a half times the mass of all the other planets of the Solar System put together

The Jovian–Plutonian gravitational effect is a hoax phenomenon stated to cause a noticeable short-term reduction in gravity on Earth that was invented for April Fools' Day by the English astronomer Patrick Moore and broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on 1 April 1976.

Background[edit]

Patrick Moore (4 March 1923 – 9 December 2012) was the doyen 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 Society in 1945 and presented BBC Television's The Sky at Night programme from 1957 until his death. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1968. Above all, Moore had a high level of public recognition in the United Kingdom as a respected astronomer.[1]

Pluto, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The planet Jupiter is two and a half times as massive as all of the other planets in the Solar System combined.[2]

Pluto is so small and so remote from the Sun and the Earth that it was not discovered until 1930.[3] In 2006, the International Astronomical Union reclassified it as a dwarf planet, as it belongs to a belt of many similar small objects.[4]

Events of April 1976[edit]

On 1 April 1976, Moore stated to radio listeners that an astronomical event would take place at 9:47 a.m. that day, a conjunction of 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' gravitation which 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.[5][6]

Soon after 9:47 on that morning, the BBC began to receive hundreds of telephone calls from people reporting they had observed the decrease in gravity.[5] 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".[7]

Hoax revealed[edit]

The story was quickly revealed as an April Fools' Day hoax. Martin Wainwright later wrote in The Guardian that Moore was "an ideal presenter" to carry off the hoax, with his weighty delivery having "an added air of batty enthusiasm that only added to his credibility".[7]

In 1980, Moore collaborated with Clyde Tombaugh, the man who had discovered Pluto in 1930, to publish a new book about the dwarf planet.[8]

Hoax explained[edit]

The hoax claims that the gravitational pull of Jupiter and Pluto combined will cause one to spend a significantly longer amount of time in the air due to an increase in gravitational pull from the distant planets, however this is incorrect. Although other planets do exert a gravitational pull on humans on Earth, the amount is incredibly small.

Although Jupiter is very massive, it is also very far away. When at its closest distance to Earth of about 600 million kilometers, Jupiter has a gravitational pull of 0.00013 newtons on a person with a mass of 100 kg, according to Newton's law of gravity. This is roughly equivalent to the gravitational attraction of a compact car from half a meter away. Similarly, the gravitational pull of the dwarf planet Pluto on a person on Earth is roughly equal to that of a marble 100 meters away. Thus, the gravitational impact of the planets is far too small to be able to cause a person to weigh noticeably less, or stay in the air noticeably longer when jumping.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Patrick Moore Biography online at hicelebs.com (accessed 27 March 2008)
  2. ^ Beeb, Reta, Jupiter: The Giant Planet (Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution Press, 2nd edition, 1996, ISBN 1-56098-685-9)
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ "IAU 2006 General Assembly: Result of the IAU Resolution votes". International Astronomical Union. 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  5. ^ a b "Planetary Alignment Decreases Gravity -- April Fool's Day, 1976". Museum of Hoaxes. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  6. ^ Novak, Asami (24 March 2008). "10 Best: April Fools' Gags (the Web Is Closing for Spring Cleaning!)". Wired.
  7. ^ a b Wainright, Martin (30 March 2007). "Fooling around". The Guardian.
  8. ^ Moore, Patrick, & Tombaugh, Clyde W., Out of the Darkness, the Planet Pluto (Harrisburg, Pa., Stackpole Books; and London, Lutterworth Press, 1980)

References[edit]

  • Tombaugh, Clyde W., Pluto in The Astronomy Encyclopaedia, ed. Patrick Moore (London, M. Beazley, 1987)

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovian–Plutonian_gravitational_effect — Please support Wikipedia.
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58 news items

WCVB Boston

WCVB Boston
Fri, 06 Feb 2015 01:00:00 -0800

1976: British astronomer Patrick Moore broadcasts his Jovian–Plutonian gravitational effect hoax on BBC Radio 2. Moore told his listeners that as Pluto passed behind Jupiter at 9:47 a.m. that day, it would briefly cause a powerful combination of the ...

CNET

NBCNews.com
Sat, 03 Jan 2015 10:41:00 -0800

According to the article, people on Earth could experience this "Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect" by "jumping in the air at the precise moment the alignment occurred." If they did so, Moore supposedly said, they would experience a "strange ...

The News-Press

The News-Press
Thu, 01 Jan 2015 16:21:15 -0800

For my money, Moore's Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect ranks among April Fools' hoaxes right up there with the April 1, 1985, issue of Sports Illustrated, for which which George Plimpton wrote a 14-page feature about an eccentric, French-horn ...

Slate Magazine (blog)

Slate Magazine (blog)
Fri, 03 Jan 2014 05:03:34 -0800

Moore calls this the Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect. Yeah, except this is all baloney. To be polite. OK, so why is this wrong? Pluto and Jupiter, Sitting in a Tree … First of all, the gravitational forces of the other planets in the solar ...

International Business Times, India Edition

RedOrbit
Mon, 29 Dec 2014 06:29:29 -0800

The report goes on to cite UK astronomer Patrick Moore as the source of this information, which he calls the Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect. The unusual planetary alignment means that the combined gravitational forces of the two planets will ...

Slate Magazine (blog)

Slate Magazine (blog)
Wed, 24 Dec 2014 04:19:52 -0800

This rare alignment will mean that the combined gravitational force of the two planets would exert a stronger tidal pull, temporarily counteracting the Earth's own gravity and making people weigh less. Moore calls this the Jovian-Plutonian ...

minbcnews.com

minbcnews.com
Tue, 30 Dec 2014 04:33:45 -0800

This rare alignment will mean that the combined gravitational force of the two planets would exert a stronger tidal pull, temporarily counteracting the Earth's own gravity and making people weigh less. Moore calls this the Jovian-Plutonian ...

Business Insider

Business Insider
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 10:07:03 -0800

If you've been paying attention on Facebook recently, you might have noticed a friend or two sharing a story about a phenomenon that would supposedly be happening in early January of 2015. "Strange natural occurrences are happening in the world today.
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