Historical Records

Home | Lunar Eclipses | Solar Eclipses | Viewing Eclipses | Upcoming Eclipses | Historical Records | Works Cited | Reflection

There are records of eclipses that date back to the ancient times. Ancient records have shown that the Chinese have been studying eclipses over 4,000 years ago and have been used to measure changes in the Earth's rate of spin. Recent research has shown that eclipses made for very fascinating mythology for the ancient Egyptians.

In ancient China eclipses were used as heavenly signs that could foretell the future of the Emperor. Therefore, being able to predict these eclipses was an important skill to them. The Chinese also believed that during a solar eclipse a legendary dragon was eating the sun. (The same goes for the event of a lunar eclipse). During one of these events, the Chinese would bang loud pots and drums to try and scare the dragon away from the sun.

Astronomers now are able to calculate the dates of eclipses in the past with very good accuracy. Some of these calculations have been important to astronomers because they help keep historical events and eras dated accurately.

In the past, solar eclipses have helped many astronomers study or get accurate images of certain objects in space such as the stars, the sun, and other elements. For example, the solar eclipse of May 29, 1919 is famous for observations that were made that helped to confirm some of Einstein's studies on general relativity.