Famous Solar Eclipses In History

A brief article mentioning several historical solar eclipses and some of the results on the world they had.

Whenever the Earth passes through the moon's shadow, an eclipse of the sun occurs. The phase of the moon determines how much of the sun is blocked or eclipsed. A total solar eclipse occurs only during a new moon because the moon is directly between the Earth and sun. The total eclipse is only seen from Earth in the areas where the moon's shadow is falling, so total eclipses last only a minute or two.

One of the earliest documented solar eclipses occurred on October 22, 2134 B.C.E. in China. The Babylonians were the only ancient culture to discover the Saros or long-range prediction cycle of eclipses. This cycle has allowed historians to document many historical accounts. It lasts 18 years 11.3 days. Another record of the Saros cycle was found on clay tablets written in cuneiform by the Chaldeans. Even a quote from the Bible (Amos8:9) was verified in this way because of an account of an eclipse in an Assyrian record.

Many historians agree that the most famous historical solar eclipse occurred on May 28, 585 B.C.E. A famous Greek scientist named Thales, who had studied in Babylon, predicted a full solar eclipse for that day. Two Middle Eastern countries were involved in a battle at this time. The Lydians and Medes (Persians) had been at war for five years. As the two armies approached to start the battle that day, the eclipse happened. The darkening of the sky frightened the armies. A peace treaty was agreed to and a double marriage took place to cement the truce.

Around April 20, 899 B.C.E., The people now known as the Chinese recorded an eclipse called China's 'Double-Dawn'. It is believed to have been a total solar eclipse that occurred at the same time as dawn. On June 15, 763 B.C.E., an eclipse happened that is referred to as the Assyrian eclipse. This eclipse was important as it fixed a series of unbroken Assyrian year names. This Assyrian record is part of a set of five primary materials used to date events and rulers from the third and second millennia B.C.E.

On October 2, 480 B.C.E, a total solar eclipse referred to as Xerxes' Eclipse occurred. The eclipse occurred as Xerxes and his Persian armies were marching to destroy the Greeks. Xerxes's magi foreshadowed a great victory for Xerxes, but actually, he was defeated and forced to retreat.

A major solar eclipse occurred over Europe on May 14, 1230. A medieval historian said that the workers in the field were confused because during the morning, the sky went dark. They went home to sleep but had to get up again and return to work.

A total solar eclipse on May 29, 1919 was used to prove Einstein's theory of gravitation. Groups of scientists were set around the globe to take measurements of stars in a particular cluster. The results proved that the stars' light was bent in the exact amount that Einstein predicted. Eventually this bending of light came to be called gravitational lensing.

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