© 2009

The Sun Recorded Through History

Scientific Data Extracted from Historical Documents

  • An updated reference on the time variation of solar activity in the last thousand years

  • An essential resource on the evolution of solar observations

  • A primary reference for solar amateur astronomers doing observations with simple techniques

  • A description on the impact of astronomical phenomena on the society


Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 361)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. José M. Vaquero, M. Vázquez
    Pages 1-56
  3. José M. Vaquero, M. Vázquez
    Pages 57-102
  4. José M. Vaquero, M. Vázquez
    Pages 103-173
  5. José M. Vaquero, M. Vázquez
    Pages 175-216
  6. José M. Vaquero, M. Vázquez
    Pages 217-278
  7. José M. Vaquero, M. Vázquez
    Pages 279-336
  8. José M. Vaquero, M. Vázquez
    Pages 337-376
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 377-383

About this book


The Sun Recorded Through History is a text that reconstructs past solar activity based on information from historical documents, complementing studies using other techniques. Historical accounts describing phenomena related to solar activity, such as aurorae, sunspots, and corona observed during solar eclipses can be used as a proxy of solar activity in the past. These descriptions are reviewed, on the one hand providing primary material for the history of astronomy and, on the other, verifying or refuting current ideas concerning the time variability of the Sun on the scale of centuries.

Documents predating the discovery of photography (around 1840) that contain information on these topics are highlighted, but modern drawings are also included. The lower temporal limit of study is set by the archaeoastronomy of prehistoric sources. In addition, the necessary background on the Sun is provided, with special emphasis on observing techniques and the influences of telescopes and the Earth's atmosphere on the data obtained from solar observations.

This book contains over two hundred figures, many of which are reproductions of historical documents and hand drawings. It is an essential resource on the evolution of solar observations and will be of interest to students and researchers in solar physics, as well as astronomers and historians of science.


Chromosphere Corona Photosphere Planet Solar wind Sun Sunspot solar

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad ExtremaduraDepartamento de Física AplicadaCáceresSpain
  2. 2.Instituto de Astrofísica de CanariasLa LagunaSpain

About the authors

M. Vázquez is a senior solar astronomer and author of "Ultraviolet Radiation in the Solar System", already published by Springer in 2005

J.M.Vaquero has written approximately thirty papers about the use of historical observations and measurements in modern astronomical and geophysical studies

Bibliographic information


From the reviews: “Packed with many hundreds of references to both past and contemporary astronomical and historical literature, the book is a must for historians of science and professional astronomers and solar physicists interested in the historical reconstructions of solar activity. … interested readers should find their money’s worth. … In The Sun Recorded Through History, long-gone solar astronomers tell us what they saw.” (Paul Charbonneau, Physics Today, December, 2009) “This monograph is primarily a historical survey of solar activity from the dawn of historic observations … to the invention of photography in 1840. … highlight is a detailed discussion of observed sunspot minima and maxima over the past 2,000 years, and the possible contributing role of sociological factors in these observations. The illustrations are well chosen and often fascinating … . The work will be of interest primarily to historians of astronomy and solar astronomers … . Summing Up: Recommended. Researchers, faculty, and professionals.” (R. L. Mutel, Choice, Vol. 47 (4), December, 2009)