Solar Eclipses: Watch live on SLOOH
From ancient Greek Empedocles (493-433 BCE), comes this observation of a solar eclipse:
“The moon shuts off the beams of teh sun as it passes across it, and darkens so much of the earth as the breadth of the blue-eyed moon amounts to.”
And Aristotle in Metaphysics (384-322 BCE):
"In addition to this, there is evidence for the truth of what I have stated in the observed facts with regard to total eclipses of the sun; for when the centre of the sun, the centre of the moon, and our eye happen to be in one straight line, what is seen is not always alike; but at one time the cone which comprehends the moon and has its vertex at our eye comprehends the sun itself at the same time, and the sun even remains invisible to us for a certain time, while again at another time this is so far from being the case that a rim of a certain breadth on the outside edge is left visible all round it at the middle of the duration of the eclipse. Hence we must conclude that the apparent difference in the sizes of the two bodies observed under the same atmospheric conditions is due to the inequality of their distances (at different times).”
A Solar Eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, when the Moon partially blocks (occults) the Sun. A Solar Eclipse can only occur when the Sun and the Moon are in the same sign or conjunct one another. This alignment is called a syzygy. On the New Moon of November 3, 2013, the annular solar eclipse will result in a total eclipse of the Sun, a very rare event.
This eclipse will be visible most clearly from the Eastern seaboard of North America to parts of the Middle East and Africa. The Moon’s dark shadow, called the umbral shadow, will dark out regions over the path of this eclipse. The Moon will appear in the middle of the Sun, a bright, solar ring surrounding her. This particular eclipse is called a hybrid, occurring only 569 times (4.8%) out of 11,898 times during the last 5000 years, according to Fred Espennak’s, Five Millennium Catalogue of Solar Eclipses . The Solar Eclipse occurs at 3:45 PST so will not be visible to the West Coast of North America. However, on the East Coast, the eclipse occurs at 6:45 EST, and will be visible to many. Be careful not to look directly into the Sun as it can damage your eyes.
Since ancient times, solar eclipses have been observed, and have fascinated people. Often viewed as divine or heavenly signs, solar eclipses have apparently coincided with some major events. Both mythology and narrative alike, carry forward the stories of our responses to the solar and lunar eclipses.
Since 26 CE, the Chinese have been able to predict eclipses by charting the movement of the Moon. The Babylonians and Egyptians astronomers have charted the movement of the Moon, the Sun, and the planets for thousands of years. Some of the most interesting events to occur at the time of a Solar Eclipse include the following:
May 3, 1375 BCE in the city o Ugarit (modern-day Syria), July 31, 1036 BCE, and June 16, 763 BCE in the Assyrian city of Ninevah. The same solar eclipse marks the uprising of the city of Ashur.
October 22, 2134, the Chinese Book of History, Shu Ching, records a solar eclipse that the royal astronomer, Hsi and Ho, failed to predict. They were beheaded for their negligence. The Sun is a symbol for the emperor of China, and to guarantee good fortune for his people, after an eclipse the emperor would perform rituals and eat a strict vegetarian diet to ensure that the Sun would be saved from the dragon that had almost devoured the Sun (the Moon).
May 28, 585 BCE, a solar eclipse caused two waring armies to stop fighting. The ceasefire during the Battle of Halys ended the war between the Lydians and Medians, and resulted in a negotiated end to the war.
The total Solar eclipse in the year 29 CE that lasted for nearly two minutes and the total Solar eclipse in 33 CE that lasted for four minutes and six seconds are both considered likely to be one of the eclipses that coincided with Jesus’ crucifixion and the darkening of the sky that has been recorded.
It is mentioned several times in the Qur'an that there was a solar eclipse in 569 CE that preceded the birth of the Prophet Mohammed.
The son of William the Conqueror, Henry the First, died at the time of a four and a half minute Solar eclipse in 1133. Henry’s death marked the beginning of a civil war and much chaos in the English empire.
Eclipses are not always signs of doom. In 1919, the Solar eclipse that lasted for six minutes and 51 seconds, allowed physicists to measure the bending light from stars as they passed near the Sun thereby confirming Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
So as you take in the individual and collective energy of the Solar Eclipse of 2013, consider the words of William Wordsworth:
"High on her speculative tower Stood Science waiting for the hour When Sol was destined to endure That darkening of his radiant face Which Superstition strove to chase, Erewhile, with rites impure." (1820)