Archives for category: Science

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 2nd 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

Explaining Science

My latest post is about the work of the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630).  He is most famous for his improvement to the earlier model of Copernicus by introducing the idea that the planets move in elliptical, rather than circular, orbits and that their movements in these orbits are governed by a set of laws, which became known as Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. However, as I’ll talk about later, he also made many other major contributions to astronomy and mathematics.

Johannes Kepler – Image from Wikimedia Commons

As readers of a previous post will be aware, in 1543 the Polish astronomer Nicolas Copernicus (1473–1543) published a theory in which the Earth and all the planets orbited the Sun. Prior to Copernicus, the generally accepted view was that the Earth was the centre of the Universe and the Sun, the stars and the planets were all in motion around it. However…

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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