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Eclipse (Astronomy)
   
        

    
 
 
 


In astronomy,
the total or partial obscuring of one heavenly body by another; a passing into the shadow of a heavenly body.


An eclipse of the moon occurs when the earth is between the moon and the sun, thus depriving the moon of the sun's light. An eclipse of the sun occurs when the moon is between the sun and the earth.
 
 
 
         

 
An Annular Eclipse Passes Above the Statue of Liberty; —  Buy this art print at AllPosters.
 
 

 
 


Man has always regarded the sun with awe and reverence, not only because it is seen to be the energy source of all life, but also because of its constancy and the inflexible reliability of the cycle of day and night. This diurnal cycle has been built into the evolutionary pattern of all living things so that they respond to sunset and sunrise as if remotely controlled by the sun itself. Sunset and dawn have become the natural regulators of our activities and rest periods. It is not surprising, therefore, that the sun should be treated with respect and even worshipped, because of the security that it inspires. It is because of the unfaltering cycle of the movement of the sun across the sky that we are peculiarly sensitive to any interruption that occurs.
         

  
Diagram Showing an Eclipse of the Moon, by Charles F. Bunt; —  Buy this art print at AllPosters.
 


In the days when solar eclipses were not understood, these phenomena were the cause of great alarm and were generally ascribed to supernatural agency. Among the Romans at one time it was even considered blasphemous and held to be a legal offense to speak openly of their being due to natural causes.
         

 
Multiple Exposure Image of All Stages of Eclipse of the Sun over Winnipeg, by Henry Groskinsky  —  Buy this art print at AllPosters.
 
 
 
 


A total solar eclipse is indeed awe-inspiring even to experienced astronomers. The scene is set by the gradual weakening of the sunlight as the moon moves across the disc of the sun, even though the sky remains clear and blue. Just before the eclipse is total the shadow can be seen bearing down at a speed of about 2000 miles an hour and the air has become unusually still. As the darkness sweeps down there is an involuntary temptation to crouch and let the shadow pass; a glance at the sun reveals the crimson prominences, like huge angry flames embedded in the pearly light of the corona. One's attention is riveted on the magnificent spectacle until suddenly the sun reappears. Dawn is repeated in the space of a few seconds and the whole world seems to come to life again.
   
            

Astronomy 101; Enroll Today!

    
 
 


The earliest recorded eclipse seems to have been the one that took place on 22 October 2136 BC, which is referred to in the ancient Chinese classic the Chou King or Book of History. Eclipses must have been observed earlier than this for the story has it that the two official astronomers of the time were taken by surprise by this one, with the result that there was insufficient time to prepare the customary rites. The normal procedure was to beat drums and gongs, shoot arrows in the air, and make a general din with the intention of frightening away the monster that threatened to devour the sun. In spite of the fact that the sun recovered from this attack the two astronomers were executed for their negligence. There are many other cases of the use of various rites to ward off the threat to the sun.
 
 
 
         

Solar Eclipse, by Roger Holden  —  Buy this art print at AllPosters.
 
 

 
 


One particularly interesting case in modern times is the one recorded in a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer concerning the eclipse of 29 July 1878:


"It was the grandest sight I ever beheld but it frightened the Indians badly. Some of them threw themselves upon their knees and invoked the Divine blessing; others flung themselves flat on the ground, face downwards; others cried and yelled in frantic excitement and terror. Finally one old fellow stepped from the door of his lodge, pistol in hand, and fixing his eyes on the darkened sun, mumbled a few unintelligible words and raising his arm took direct aim at the luminary, fired off his pistol, and after throwing his arms about his head ins series of extraordinary gesticulations, retreated to his own quarters. As it happened, that very instant was the conclusion of totality."

   
         

 
Composite Image of Lunar Eclipse; —  Buy this art print at AllPosters.
 
   


Solar eclipses are usually very short and the total phase cannot last longer than eight minutes. It is this transient nature of the event that seems to promote the use of some sort of ritual. No sooner have the demonstrations begun than the monster moves away and the eclipse is over. Such highly 'effective' deterrents will obviously be remembered and used again if the occasion should arise.
 

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-- Further Learning

Copyright Info --
-- Videos and DVDs Bibliography --
-- Art and Graphics Basic Navigation --
-- Suggested Reading Additional Online Info --

  


       
Suggested Software:
 
Related Courses:
 
 
 

 
-- Explore Space Learning Power Pack (Win/Mac).

-- Galileo Cosmic Voyager 5 Pack CD ROM Set.

--
Starry Night Complete Space & Astronomy Pack.

-- Starry Night Enthusiast 5.0 Astronomy Software (Win/Mac).

--
The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide To The Future.

--
The UFO Anthology Deluxe 3 CD-ROM Set Deluxe field guide to extraterrestrial phenomena.

--
UFO - This Planet's Most Complete Guide to Close Encounters CD-ROM.

-- The Unexplained CD-ROM.

-- Click HERE for more related software.

-- Click HERE for the best prices on top-selling software titles.
 


Suggested Videos:
 
 

 
-- Destiny In Space (IMAX) DVD.

--
Exploring Space: The Quest for Life DVD.

--
Inside the Space Station DVD.

-- Men in Space.


-- Mystery of the Full Moon.

--
Mysteries of Deep Space.

--
NASA: 50 Years of Space Exploration DVD.

-- Nova - Eclipse of the Century.


--
Origin of the Universe.

--
Space Mission: Reaching for the Stars DVD.

--
Space Views DVD.

--
The IMAX Space Collection 5 DVD Set.

--
Understanding Space Travel.

--
We Are Not Alone: Space Voyagers.

-- Click HERE for more related videos.

-- Click HERE for the best prices on top-selling DVD titles.
   
 

       
-- Astronomy 101 - Exploring Our Universe.

--
Cosmology 101.

--
UFO Studies.

-- Handwriting Analysis Basics.

-- Understanding Parapsychology and the Paranormal.

--
Understanding Technology.

-- Click HERE for more new age and alternative beliefs courses.



Suggested Art prints and Posters:

         
NASA - Columbia Launch Into Clouds  - ©Spaceshots
NASA - Columbia Launch Into Clouds - ©Spaceshots Art Print
Buy this art print
  NASA - Buzz Aldrin On Moon  - ©Spaceshots
NASA - Buzz Aldrin On Moon - ©Spaceshots Art Print
Buy this art print
 
         
Nasa Solar System
Nasa Solar System Poster
Buy this poster
  First Man on the Moon
First Man on the Moon
Buy This Allposters.com
 
         
Gas-Giant Exoplanet Transiting Across the Face of Its Star
Gas-Giant...
Stocktrek Images...
Buy This at Allposters.com
    Aerial View of a Meteor Impact Crater Near the Town of Halls Creek
Aerial View of a...
Randy Olson
Buy This at Allposters.com
 
         

-- Click HERE for more related art prints and posters.
 
-- Click HERE for related magazines and periodicals.
 
 

Suggested Books:

      
     
-- 1000 Facts About Space.

-- 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the Universe.

-- About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution.

-- Advanced Stellar Astrophysics.

-- Adventure in Space: The Flight to Fix the Hubble.

-- Adventures in Celestial Mechanics: A First Course in the Theory of Orbits.

-- After Contact: The Human Response to Extraterrestrial Life.

-- All About Space (Scholastic First Encyclopedia).

-- Amazing Spacefacts: Solar System, Stars, Space Travel (Facts at Your Fingertips).

--
Astrophysics and Space Physics Reviews: Supernova 1987A.

--
Chandra: Chandrasekhar Sets of White Dwarfs & Supernova Cores.

-- Eclipse: An Introduction to Total and Partial Eclipses of the Sun and Moon.

-- Eclipse!: The What, Where, When, Why, and How Guide to Watching Solar and Lunar Eclipses.

-- Eclipses: Nature's Blackouts (First Book).

-- Fundamentals of Astrodynamics and Applications.

--
Shadow of a Star: The Neutrino Story of Supernova 1987A.

-- Space Mission Analysis and Design (Space Technology Library).

--
Supernova 1987a in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

--
Supernova Remnants and the Interstellar Medium.

--
Supernova Remnants and Their X-Ray Emission.

--
Supernova Search Charts and Handbook.

--
Supernova Vignettes.

-- The 21st Century in Space (Isaac Asimov's New Library of the Universe).

-- The Cambridge Eclipse Photography Guide: How and Where to Observe and Photography Solar and Lunar Eclipses.

--
The Crab Nebula and Related Supernova Remnants.

-- The Last Three Minutes: Conjectures About the Ultimate Fate of the Universe (Science Masters Series).

-- The Origin of the Universe (Science Masters Series).

-- The Space Environment: Implications for Spacecraft Design.

-- The Sun in Eclipse (Practical Astronomy).

-- Totality: Eclipses of the Sun.

-- Understanding Space: An Introduction to Astronautics.

-- Click HERE for more Moon related books.

-- Click HERE for more Solar System related books.

-- Click HERE for more Space related books.

-- Click HERE for more Supernova related books.

-- Click HERE for more Universe related books.

-- Click HERE for the best prices on top-selling book titles.
 

 

  

Further info:

-- Eclipse.
-- Eclipses.
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