Thursday, 15 August 2013

Late sun rises and missing satellites

A short-lived but entertaining rumour occurred in October 1736. In the Ipswich Journal for October 15-22, they stated that the “News-letters” for October the 19th reported that the Royal Observatory in Paris had discovered two strange phenomena. One, that the sunrises and sunsets for the past ten days had been quarter of an hour later than expected, and also that one of Jupiter’s satellites had disappeared.

Quite what the implications would have been had this rumour spread is never discovered. After just a week, retractions were being published in those newspapers that carried the initial story.

Where this story came from, a misunderstanding or deliberate misinformation, is never made clear. Pity. It would have been interesting to see the effect if it had been given more time.

Ipswich Journal, 15-22 October 1736
Derby Mercury, 28 October 1736