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Abstract

One of the most awe-inspiring of celestial events seen by early man must surely have been the occurrence of an eclipse of the sun or moon. With no apparent warning, one or two times a year, a darkness encroaches upon the bright light of the sun or moon: sometimes to completely cover the heavenly body, sometimes to retreat before the light is fully extinguished. To make the event more ominous, the eclipsed moon may become a dim, blood red colour, or, in the rare event of a total solar eclipse, the day may literally turn into night during which stars become visible and the air turns cold. It is therefore not surprising that eclipses were viewed as important astrological events in many early civilizations.1

Keywords

Solar Eclipse Universal Time Total Solar Eclipse Lunar Eclipse Gregorian Calendar 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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References

  1. 1.
    For a survey of ethnohistorical data regarding eclipses, see Closs (1989). This survey is confined to the Central American region. To my knowledge no such surveys have been made for other areas.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Thus the Chinese term for an eclipse, shih, literally meaning “eaten.” See Needham (1959: 409).Google Scholar
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    Utukkū lemnūti, 16. See Kilmer (1978).Google Scholar
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    Witness the surprising number of eclipses — too many for mere coincidence — said to have been seen during, or on the eve of, major battles in classical antiquity.Google Scholar
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    Untimed observations and predictions will be mentioned, but not discussed in detail. For a recent discussion of many untimed observations, see Stephenson (1997b).Google Scholar
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    There is a considerable improvement in the accuracy of eclipse timings in the latter half of the seventeenth century when telescopes began to be used more widely. See Stephenson & Morrison (1984).Google Scholar
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    See, for example, their discussion in Bretagnon, Simon, & Laskar (1985).Google Scholar
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    The Gregorian calendar differs from the Julian calendar in that leap years are defined to be years which are divisible by 4, except those that are divisible by 100 unless they are also divisible by 400. In the Julian calendar, every year divisible by 4 is a leap year. Thus, in a 400 year period, there are 3 more leap years in the Julian calendar than in the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar therefore more accurately approximates the solar year.Google Scholar
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    Mathematically, a year -n = n + 1 BC.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • John M. Steele
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DurhamUK

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