When Boredom Strikes

The 1976 April Fools' Pranks, Planetary Alignment

On April fool's Day, 1976, the BBC convinced many listeners that a special alignment of the planets would temporarily decrease gravity on Earth. Phone lines were flooded with callers who claimed they felt the effects.

Sir Patrick Moore, a British astronomer, announced on BBC2 radio in 1976 that a remarkable and impending planetary alignment would momentarily weaken gravity.

According to Sir Patrick, the alignment of Pluto, Jupiter, and the Earth will counteract the gravitational pull of Earth at 947 a.m. The astronomer informed his audience that individuals could experience a brief sensation of weightlessness if they leaped into the air at the exact moment he instructed them to.

When Sir Patrick declared “now” at 9:47 a.m., people jumped all over the United Kingdom and even abroad. Hundreds of people called the radio station to report experiencing the effect.

A caller claimed that she and her spouse had experienced levitation; Sir Patrick had devised the April Fool’s Day joke to mock assertions that a planetary alignment in 1982 would result in significant earthquakes.

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