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The Most Famous Solar Eclipses In History

by Ruchi Jaiswal
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According to NASA, a solar eclipse happens when the moon is in the path of the sun and blocks it entirely or partially. You will see a total solar eclipse if you’re blessed to find yourself in the totality’s path. But even with the right filters at the ready and a position for partial viewing, you can still take a cool photo.  

But from ancient times, people have interpreted the moon’s brief total eclipse of the sun — the eclipse itself can last for hours as the moon’s shadow passes across Earth, as it will today — as a sign of a coming miracle, the wrath of God, or the end of a dynasty in power. (See live webcasts of the solar eclipse today.)

Here are a few of the most well-known eclipses throughout time.

King Henry’s Eclipse

No guys, the title doesn’t suggest that the Great King Henry owned the Eclipse, instead A total solar eclipse that lasted for four minutes and 38 seconds occurred in 1133, the same year that King Henry I of England, the son of William the Conqueror, passed away. According to William of Malmesbury’s history, the “hideous darkness” stirred up men’s emotions. Following the death, a power struggle led to civil war and turmoil in the realm. 

An account of this eclipse is found in the “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle” in the following passage: The sky clouded over all nations when King Henry traveled across the sea during Lammas this year, and the Sun appeared to be a three-night-old Moon with stars surrounding it at midday. Men were immensely astounded and terrified, and they predicted that a big thing would follow. 

Assyrian Eclipse

It is very likely that the Bur-Sagale eclipse as usual, referred to for being the Assyrian eclipses, took place in the 10th year of King Ashur-dan III’s reign because it was referenced in Assyrian eponym lists. The Assyrian empire, which at the time controlled what is now Iraq, witnessed a five-minute total solar eclipse in 763 B.C. The eclipse and an uprising in the city of Ashur are mentioned in the same section in early documents from the time, which suggests that the ancient people connected the two events in their imaginations.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

According to the Christian narratives, the sky was clouded for several hours following Jesus’ crucifixion. Historians interpreted this as either a miraculous event or a sign of impending gloom. Based on this reference to an eclipse, later historians employed astronomy to determine exactly when Christ died. Some historians link the Crucifixion of Jesus to an entire solar eclipse that lasted one minute and 59 seconds in the year 29 CE; others claim that Jesus’ death was heralded by a second total eclipse that blocked the sun for four minutes and six seconds in the year 33 CE.

Birth of Mohammed

The eclipse that happened before Mohammed’s birth is mentioned in the Koran. Later, historians connected this to a complete eclipse that occurred in 569 C.E. and lasted for 3 minutes, 17 seconds. In addition, for a minute and forty seconds following the passing of Mohammed’s son Ibrahim, the sun vanished. However, the first Muslims in history did not consider the eclipse to be a divine portent. Mohammed asserted that “the sun and the moon do not suffer eclipse for anyone’s death or life” in Islamic literature known as the Hadiths.

Early Chinese Eclipse

Chinese historians recorded a spectacular complete eclipse that obscured the sun for a total of six minutes and 25 seconds in 1302 B.C. An eclipse was viewed as an alarm to the ruler since the sun represented an image of the emperor. In a 2003 study published in the journal of Celestial Archaeology and Heritage, it was discovered that an emperor would consume vegetarian food after an eclipse and carry out rites to save the sun. 

Einstein’s Eclipse

In contrast to how the ancients perceived eclipses, physicists saw the 1919 total solar eclipse as a scientific victory. Scientists took measurements of the bends of light that came from the celestial bodies when they passed close to the sun during the historic eclipse of 1919, which saw the sun disappear for a total of six minutes and 51 seconds. Einstein’s concept of universal relativity, which explains gravitation through the warping of space-time, was supported by the observations.

Ugarit Eclipse

According to an examination of a clay tablet found in 1948, the Ugarit eclipse, one of the first solar eclipses ever recorded, was on the third of May in 1375 B.C., and it clouded the heavens for a duration of two minutes and 7 seconds. Then, according to a 1989 research published in the scientific journal Nature, the eclipse actually took place on March 5, 1223 B.C. The tablet’s historical chronology and an analysis of its language, which cites the appearance of Mars as being visible during the eclipse, were used to determine the new date.

In Ugarit, which is an important port in Northern Syria, Mesopotamian historians recall how this total eclipse “put to shame” the sun. 

Final Word

Total solar eclipses, which are relatively few occurrences, are the type of eclipses that are frequently shown in movies. You probably picture them as soon as you hear the phrase twilight. 

Location and the presence of skies that are clear (or at least scattered clouds) are two important factors that determine whether you can see an eclipse of the sun.  You will probably witness numerous total eclipses of the sun from where you are over the years, notwithstanding the rarity of totality. Get ready and know what to anticipate if you’re lucky enough to be in the vicinity of an entire or partial eclipse.

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