Archives for category: Moon
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Sulpicius Gallus crater on the moon (at left)

Solar eclipses may have had the greater impact on human history, but eclipses of the moon have also played a part.

Although they don’t have the same dramatic effect of darkness, the red color of an eclipsed moon, caused by the reflection of sunrises and sunsets around half the world, has often been viewed as an omen of bloodshed.

In the 4th century B.C., a Roman army preparing to fight the Macedonians at Pydna, in Greece, were warned not to worry when they saw an eclipse of the moon on the eve of the battle.

According to the historian Livy and other Roman writers, the military tribune Gaius Sulpicius Gallus correctly predicted the lunar eclipse and persuaded the Roman troops that it was nothing to fear.

“He then explained that on the following night the moon would lose her light from the second hour to the fourth, and no one must regard this as a portent, because this happened in the natural order of things at stated intervals, and could be known beforehand and predicted,” Livy wrote.

Source: Christopher Columbus to Thailand’s Kings: 11 Curious Eclipse Stories

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Solar eclipses also feature in one of the earliest science fiction stories, the “Somnium,” (or “The Dream”) written by the German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler and published in 1634.

In the story, Kepler’s hero hears a description of space travel by “daemons” that live in the shadow of moon.

When a solar eclipse occurs, Kepler’s daemons are able to travel between the moon and the Earth on a “bridge of shadow” — and they sometimes even take human passengers with them.

“We confer with other daemons of the same region and plan an alliance so when the sunlight first begins to leave a region of space, we move in massed ranks into the shadow,” said Kepler’s lunar daemon.

“For if the sharp point of the moon’s shadow touches the earth, which often happens, our allied squadrons fall upon the earth.

 

Source: Christopher Columbus to Thailand’s Kings: 11 Curious Eclipse Stories

Solar and lunar eclipses have sometimes played quite a remarkable role in human history. From foretelling evil omens to inspiring early works of science fiction, here are 11 of the most curious stories about eclipses.

Source: Christopher Columbus to Thailand’s Kings: 11 Curious Eclipse Stories