Gravity Loss

Before You Read

Look at the title. Can you guess what this story is about?


On April 1, 1976, the British astronomer, Patrick Moore, made a special announcement on BBC Radio.

‘At 9:47 AM there’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event,’ he said. ‘The planet Pluto will pass behind Jupiter. And at that point there will be a reduction in the Earth's own gravity.


‘If you jump into the air at this exact moment,’ Moore told his listeners, ‘you will experience a strange floating sensation.’

A few minutes after 9:47 AM the BBC began receiving phone calls from listeners. Hundreds claimed to have felt the floating sensation.

One woman reported a remarkable loss of gravity amongst her group of twelve friends . ‘We rose from our chairs,' she told a BBC telephone operator. 'Then we floated around the room.’

Classroom Activities

Classroom activities

1. A local TV news station interviews 'gravity jumpers' . Role play the scene in groups:

. Five things I didn't know about: gravity

Work in groups to find five new facts about hot air balloons. At least one must
not be from the Internet - try books, encyclopedias, dictionaries etc.



Here are some difficult words from the story.

- force pulling us back to earth
Astronomy -
study of space & the stars

Floating -
move gently across water or though space



1. You are Patrick Moore. Write a short script for you April Fool's broadcast about 'gravity loss'.

2. You think that you experienced gravity loss. Write your diary entry.


Sir Patrick Moore is one of the greatest modern astronomers. He is also what the British call a 'a character'.

In this short fun cartoon they sing about a musical instrument Patrick plays. Which instrument is it?