Australian Eclipse expedition to Wollal 1922
Unloading Equipment, Wollal Eclipse Expedition, 1922
On the 21 September 1922 an eclipse of the sun passed across the centre of Australia providing optimum conditions for observations.
The scientific community used this opportunity to confirm Einstein's prediction that light passing the sun would be bent by gravity, by 1.76 seconds of arc. As a result a number of eclipse expeditions made their way to Australia in August 1922. The largest group of observers were based at a remote post and telegraph station at Wollal, in Western Australia.
Here there were three international parties, the Lick Observatory party, under the direction of W. W. Campbell, a group from the University of Toronto, under C. A. Chant and the Indian expedition supervised by J. Evershed. In addition Australia provided a fourth group from the Perth Observatory. They were directed Mr. Nossiter and included Mr. Nunn, Mr. Matthews, Mr. Dwyer and Mr. Yates.
Two vessels were used for the last part of the journey from Broome to Wollal. While most of the equipment and men were stowed aboard the 80 ton schooner Gwendolen the rest of the group were guests on board the steamer Governor Musgrave which towed the smaller vessel to her destination.
The unloading of stores was supervised by the Australian naval party accompanying them and supervised by Commander Quick. The shallow nature of the approach to Wollal meant the boats were anchored three or for miles from the high-water line and stores were transported by the donkey wagons seen in this picture. This activity took three days to finish being finally completed on September 1.
The success of the Wollal expedition was confirmed in May 1923, "? as a result of the observations secured last September, together with the two previous confirmations from the 1919 eclipse, leave little room for doubting that the deflection deduced from Einstein's theory is the correct one." H. Spencer Jones, Greenwich Observatory.
Geoff Barker, Curatorial, October 2008
Campbell, W. W., 'The Total Eclipse of the Sun, September 21, 1922', Astronomical Society of the Pacific, provided by the NASA Astrophysics Data System, May 2008
Evershed, J., 'Report of the Indian Eclipse Expedition to Wollal, West Australia', Kodaikanal Observatory, Bulletin, number LXI
Spencer Jones, H., 'The Total Solar Eclipse of 1922 September 21', The Observatory, May 1923
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