Claim: An unusual planetary alignment on 4 January 2014 will make people on Earth weigh less.
Example:[Collected on the Internet, December 2013]
Is it true that Earth's gravity is going to be negated by a planetary alignment on January 4 next year?
Origins: As we mentioned in a round-up of classic April Fool's Day pranks which was written nearly ten years ago, one of the more notable japes to occur on that occasion took place in 1976, when British astronomer Patrick Moore informed a radio audience that the movement of two planets would result in an upward gravitational pull which would make people on Earth lighter at precisely 9:47 a.m. that day. He invited his audience to jump in the air and experience "a strange floating sensation," and within minutes dozens of listeners had reportedly phoned in to say the experiment had worked!
Classic jokes never go away, and so even though Patrick Moore passed away in December 2012, his leg-pull from the mid-1970s has now been recycled (outside its obvious April Fool's Day context) in an article claiming that the very same event, caused by the very same phenomenon, will take place at the very same time of day — only this time on January 4 (a date which coincides with
Earth's closest approach to the sun for the year) rather than April 1:
It has been revealed by the British astronomer Patrick Moore that, on the morning of January 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.
Astronomers have long been aware that there would be an alignment of the planets on that date, when Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto would be on the same side of the Sun, within an arc 95 degrees wide. But now the effect could be expected as the gravitational effect of the other planets on the Earth’s crust is maximum even at their closest approach.
If you think you will be able to float around your house then you will be mistaken. BUT if you jump in the air at 9:47AM local time on January 4th 2014, it should take you about 3 seconds to land back on your feet instead of the usual 0.2 seconds.
January 4th 2014 will be a popular day for crazy stunts going on youtube. Do you have any ideas for stunts?
Twitter HashTag #ZeroGDay
Different day; same joke. Some denizens of Earth may indeed enjoy jumping up and down at precisely "9:47 AM local time on January 4th 2014," but if they do, they won't be hanging above the surface of the Earth for any longer than they would on any other day or time.