Will some planetary alignment supposedly to occur in January 2015 cause a decrease in gravity, thereby making us almost weightless so we can fly?
An amazingly stupid rumour has been circulating on social online networks, claiming that a planetary alignment event next January will cause a decrease in gravity for a period of five minutes that will potentially allow us to float momentarily. We might be dreaming of flying someday, or at least becoming less weighty than we already are (because of decreased gravity) so we can float, but, that is no justification to be propagating illogical, nonsensical rumours around Facebook, is it?!
The rumour has as source the writing of Sir Patrick Moore on April Fool’s day back in April 1976. An edited version reads as follows:
“It has been revealed by the British astronomer Patrick Moore that, on the morning of July 4th 2014, an extraordinary astronomical event will occur. At exactly 9:47 am, the planet Pluto will pass directly behind Jupiter, in relation to the Earth. 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 Gravitational Effect. Moore told scientists that they could experience the phenomenon by jumping in the air at the precise moment the alignment occurred. If they do so, he promised, they would experience a strange floating sensation.”
Moore’s joke was perhaps inspired from a best-selling book published in 1974, authored by John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann, from which sprouted the rumour known as The Jupiter Effect. It included the prediction that planets would align on 10th March 1982 that would lead to a disaster – of course, none of these actually happened.
Now, let’s get this straight. This news that we will possibly be floating in less than a month’s time is a hoax. Pluto will not be passing behind Jupiter – each one is floating in its own orbit, not to be aligned. Anyway, even if it did, this would not affect our gravity.