History of solar eclipses and strange answers to them

History of solar eclipses and strange answers to them

Johann Berkowski took this picture of a total solar eclipse in 1851.

Johann Berkowski

As one of the final major events of 2020, the sun will be dark. Fortunately, this is only expected to be temporary and lonely Total solar eclipse Of the year.

Unlike the big eclipse at least partially In 2017 many Americans knowThe 2020 eclipse on Dec. 14 will be visible only from the southern tip of South America and the Atlantic and Pacific regions. Although it can be viewed from anywhere via livestream.

Although Total solar eclipse Lasting only a few minutes, the rare event has a long history, covering all sorts of odd reactions from humans briefly wrapped up in daylight darkness.

The Vikings raised loud noises to frighten Schole and Hart, The two wolves of Norse mythology who chase the sun and moon and catch them from time to time, causing eclipses. Centuries later, a woman worries about a related doomsday 1748 Solar eclipse “She locked herself in a room and cut her arm off,” he says. London Evening Post At the time.

In previous centuries the understanding of what caused these stellar abductions was less widespread. But we are enlightened, modern people are not immune.

In his 1982 article Total eclipse, Annie Tillard recalls the screams of terror and / or excitement of seeing a solar eclipse spread across the state of Washington in 1979.

Steve Ruskin, astronomer historian and author America’s first major eclipse, Also found a common character.

“I have read eclipses throughout history and I find it very surprising that, regardless of the duration or scientific knowledge (or lack thereof), human responses to an eclipse are consistently, globally, expressions of awe and wonder, and of fear and terror,” Ruskin told me.

According to ancient myths and legends, Norse wolves are not the only creatures who cause eclipses by swallowing the sun. Maya, who learned to predict eclipses, sometimes depicted them as a giant snake. The Incas seemed to believe that a jaguar had swallowed the moon to cause a lunar eclipse.

“A unique and often unknown response to the eclipse is found in the 1886 account of the Australian aborigines,” says Ruskin. They say “the eclipse is believed to have been caused by another tribe on the moon, a people who are sick and angry, taking the Australian aborigines below their ‘bad mood’.”


Description of an eclipse from 1613.

M. Bluntoil / Congress of the American Library

Royal Concerns

The ancient Babylonians had enough understanding of mathematics to predict eclipses, but still they saw them as bad omens for royalty. During the eclipse they often put a commoner on the throne so that if some real dark deeds happen to the king they will fall on the fake king instead. After the eclipse, Regal was rewarded for his service by killing the stand-in, making sure no bad eclipse allies with him were dead.

In ancient China court astronomers faced a similar fate when they failed to predict an eclipse, and they are said to have been drunk. The 4,000-year-old story is inspiring later A poem It has been around for centuries:

“Here are the bodies of Ho and Hi lying, whose fate seemed tragic, but they could not spy on the invisible Teklips because they were hanged.”

That is arguably the most popular solar eclipse Coincided with the death of King I of England In 1133. Chaos and civil war continued.

A Eclipse in Turkey in 585 BC Had the opposite effect. The warring forces can take it as a sign from the gods. As it goes, the story goes, the 15-year fight came to an abrupt end.

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Mind, blow

After the eclipse of 647 BC, the Greek poet Archilocus He considered other tricks that the gods might have for the following men:

“After this, men can trust anything and expect anything. If land animals move with dolphins and move to live in their salty pastures, no one in the future should be surprised. Land, dolphins love mountains.”

According to Ruskin, coastal super jerk Christopher Columbus used the event to have dark impressions on the local Jamaican people, convincing the locals that their group was better fed or at risk of angering his god. The arrival of the eclipse helped Columbus to enslave the Native people.

History’s strange response to total solar eclipses may be far less frantic. When the early morning sun set in Europe in 1230, local workers never thought about it. They went back to bed, According to Ventover historian Roger, Should only be surprised when the sun regains its normal brightness within an hour.

Even more shocking to see the sun go down

“Often, (eclipses) were a source of fear and anxiety,” Ruskin says. “There were no scientific explanations for the movement of the earth until the so-called European scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries. The sun and moon tended to alleviate such concerns, at least among Europeans.”

This scientific enlightenment allowed us to take deep breaths and look around during eclipses. The phenomenon also has an odd effect on animals.

“A crow was the only animal near me; it was so agitated, it seemed to bend, back and forth, flying uncertainly near the ground.” Written by John Koch Adams About the 19th century eclipse.

The scientific interest around eclipses has also sparked some worrying attempts Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev uses a balloon View the 1887 eclipse from a height of 2 miles in the air.

So, looking back now at some of the irrational, unreasonable and overtly bizarre reactions to this trigonometric trick, try to judge. Even today, the The myth that an eclipse is somehow a danger to pregnant women continues. When the thing that sustains all life suddenly disappears from the sky, who is to say that it should not provoke some deep primary intuition that overwhelms the most rational responses of the conscious mind?

If you can get somewhere along the way on December 14th, you will have the opportunity to find out first.

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