the history of solar eclipses
Last Updated : GMT 05:07:50
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle
Last Updated : GMT 05:07:50
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle

Of demons and dragons

the history of solar eclipses

Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle

Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchroniclethe history of solar eclipses

A solar eclipse
Paris - Muslimchronicle

A dragon eating the Sun. Make that a giant toad. A demon. No, a vampire!

Depending on which ancient society you were part of, these were among the ravenous monsters blamed whenever the life-giving star at the center of our existence disappeared behind the Moon for a full solar eclipse.

Before we had science, humans relied on superstition to make sense of the fear-inspiring phenomenon of night falling in the middle of the day, causing the temperature to plummet and birds to stop singing.

The ancient Chinese banged on pots to frighten away Sun-gobbling dragons. Aboriginal Australians got a medicine man to throw sacred stones and boomerangs at the evil.

Robert Massey, acting executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society in London, said that before the scientific age solar eclipses were "regarded as bad omens."

"That's hardly surprising... If you didn't know what was going on, it's easy to see why you would be extremely worried," he told AFP.

It was not until we could accurately predict the path of the Moon around Earth, of the Earth around the Sun, and the distances between all three, that total eclipses became less alarming.

But this took millennia.

Full solar eclipses are a tough nut to crack as they require a precise line-up of the Sun, Moon and Earth.

The Moon orbits Earth at a slightly tilted angle, with the result that it mostly passes too high, or too low, to block out the Sun.

But once about every 18 months or so, our satellite crosses on just the right plane to block out the Sun's light and cast a shadow somewhere on Earth.

- Off with their heads -

To observe one twice in the same place would entail a wait of several hundred years -- further complicating early attempts at deciphering these events.

According to surviving records, efforts were already underway more than 4,000 years ago.

Many failed.

The so-called "drunk astronomers", Hi and Ho, for example, were executed on the emperor's orders for failing to predict an eclipse over China in 2137 BC.

In 585 BC, claimed Greek historian Herodotus, Thales of Miletus predicted a total eclipse that stopped a bloody battle in its tracks. Modern-day astronomers doubt such a calculation would have been possible.

As knowledge grew, eclipse forecasters were enjoying moderate success by the Middle Ages.

"By the time of the Renaissance, certainly by the time of the invention of the telescope (in the early 1600s) and the works of Copernicus, it's hard to believe that many people would still have regarded a total eclipse as a particularly fearful event," said Massey.

Nicolaus Copernicus, who died in 1543, formulated a map of the Universe with the Sun, not Earth, at its center.

But it took the work of 17th and 18th century astronomers Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton and Edmond Halley to really pin down the mechanics of our solar system.

This made it possible to predict where on Earth an eclipse will be visible from, giving rise to a new era of eclipse chasers.

For hundreds of years, eclipses offered the only way to observe the Sun's atmosphere, or corona, to learn more about its temperature, composition and magnetic properties.

Usually obscured by the Sun's blinding brightness, the corona becomes visible during an eclipse as a ring of light encircling the black disk that is the Moon.

- Terrifying, ghostly -

Nowadays, scientists can use a coronagraph for the same purpose.

"However, a phenomenon called diffraction blurs the light near the disk in a coronagraph, making it difficult to get clear pictures of the inner parts of the corona," according to NASA.

"So, total solar eclipses remain the only opportunity to study these regions in clear detail in visible light."

In what is arguably the most important eclipse-related discovery, the 1919 solar blackout allowed English astronomer Arthur Eddington to confirm Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity.

Teams deployed to Brazil and the island of Principe compared the position of stars near the Sun with previously photographed locations, to conclude that the Sun's gravity does bend starlight passing by it, as Einstein predicted.

Nowadays, scientists can predict eclipses with near pinpoint precision of less than a second, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

"Eclipses can be perceived as a celebration of rationalism," states an ESA document. "Wonder can replace the fear of our ancestors."


Yet, some superstition remains.

NASA has had to publish a list of "eclipse misconceptions" on its website.

These include that eclipses harm unborn babies, poison food being prepared when they occur, and portend bad luck or ill health.

"Total solar eclipses are terrifying and their ghostly green coronae look frightening, so it is natural to want to make up fearful stories about them," said the agency.

But it insisted: "there is nothing other than human psychology that connects eclipses with future events in your life."

source: AFP


GMT 11:11 2018 Friday ,12 January

Deep, buried glaciers spotted on Mars

GMT 12:13 2017 Monday ,07 August

Al-Shawaifi reveals secrets of total solar eclipse

GMT 13:38 2017 Monday ,06 March

Prepares to give stargazers an eyeful

GMT 06:31 2015 Thursday ,04 June

Pluto's unruly moons

GMT 13:12 2015 Saturday ,09 May

Sheikh Sultan opens Sharjah Centre

GMT 10:26 2015 Wednesday ,07 January

Sun may determine lifespan at birth
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

the history of solar eclipses the history of solar eclipses


Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicleSkincare PR Performance Full Year 2017

GMT 09:06 2018 Monday ,22 January

Skincare PR Performance Full Year 2017
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicleEurope brings on charm and blue skies

GMT 08:37 2018 Tuesday ,23 January

Europe brings on charm and blue skies
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicleModern colorful bedroom renovation

GMT 10:57 2017 Thursday ,21 December

Modern colorful bedroom renovation
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchroniclePuigdemont candidate for Catalan president

GMT 08:25 2018 Tuesday ,23 January

Puigdemont candidate for Catalan president
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicleAmazon to open first cashierless shop

GMT 08:31 2018 Tuesday ,23 January

Amazon to open first cashierless shop
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicleThe Rake announces editorial updates

GMT 08:20 2018 Wednesday ,17 January

The Rake announces editorial updates
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicleAirbus to get '10 years of visibility'

GMT 08:39 2018 Monday ,22 January

Airbus to get '10 years of visibility'
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicleFor the Variety of Interior Design Styles

GMT 10:46 2017 Tuesday ,19 December

For the Variety of Interior Design Styles
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicleUS Christian tourists see deep meaning

GMT 08:00 2018 Monday ,22 January

US Christian tourists see deep meaning
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicleWENN appoints entertainment journalist

GMT 09:07 2018 Monday ,22 January

WENN appoints entertainment journalist

GMT 08:33 2017 Friday ,29 December

Apple, Epson face French legal pressure

GMT 18:32 2017 Tuesday ,19 December

new! magazine names fitness & food editor

GMT 12:32 2017 Saturday ,16 December

Can Bitcoin Survive Central Banks' Scrutiny?

GMT 16:40 2011 Wednesday ,09 February

Sporadic clashes overnight despite Tunisia curfew

GMT 03:17 2013 Saturday ,16 March

Western experimentation in the 2 uprisings

GMT 20:51 2011 Tuesday ,03 May

Merkel opens German offshore wind farm

GMT 08:48 2017 Sunday ,10 September

Barbuda devastated after hit by Hurricane Irma

GMT 07:12 2018 Sunday ,21 January

One dead as accident mars fourth leg

GMT 05:41 2018 Sunday ,21 January

Pence starts Mideast tour in Egypt amid Arab anger

GMT 08:22 2018 Tuesday ,16 January

We fear Sterling more than Kane

GMT 19:55 2011 Tuesday ,22 November

Nicole Sherzinger Cheeky side

GMT 07:37 2011 Friday ,03 June

Host of contests to liven up Liwa Date Festival

GMT 09:20 2018 Thursday ,11 January

Feminists and Weinstein accuser lash Deneuve

GMT 15:09 2011 Monday ,09 May

Oprah loses her OWN head

GMT 07:33 2017 Monday ,17 April

Al Jazeera Annual Form Kicks Off

GMT 09:19 2018 Thursday ,04 January

Saudi envoy to Lebanon presents credentials

GMT 13:32 2017 Friday ,21 April

Egyptian tour guide praises rally competitions

GMT 16:51 2017 Friday ,08 September

Sharjah Ruler receives outgoing Saudi Consul

GMT 03:36 2017 Thursday ,28 December

ARACO Oversees Start of Construction of New Hotel

GMT 10:49 2017 Thursday ,07 December

Amazon claims record-breaking

GMT 01:41 2011 Wednesday ,30 March

LORICK: Let’s give them something to gossip about

GMT 11:22 2017 Monday ,13 March

Vunipola relishing England rugby revival
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle
Themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle
 Themuslimchronicle Facebook,themuslimchronicle facebook  Themuslimchronicle Twitter,themuslimchronicle twitter Themuslimchronicle Rss,themuslimchronicle rss  Themuslimchronicle Youtube,themuslimchronicle youtube  Themuslimchronicle Youtube,themuslimchronicle youtube
muslimchronicle muslimchronicle muslimchronicle muslimchronicle
themuslimchronicle themuslimchronicle themuslimchronicle
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle, themuslimchronicle