Eclipses Used To Be Terrifying

From MinuteEarth.

This video is supported by the NASA Heliophysics Education Activation Team (NASA HEAT), part of NASA’s Science Activation portfolio.

Because eclipses are powerful and frightening events, ancient cultures went to great lengths to understand eclipses, leading to remarkably accurate predictions and helping invent the science of astronomy.

To learn more about this topic, start your googling with these keywords:
– Saros: a period of about 18 years between repetitions of solar and lunar eclipses.

If you liked this week’s video, you might also like:
The Five Millenium Canon of Solar Eclipses –

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Cameron Duke | Script Writer, Narrator and Director
Sarah Berman | Illustration, Video Editing and Animation
Nathaniel Schroeder | Music

MinuteEarth is produced by Neptune Studios LLC

Stonehenge Midsummer Sunrise 2013
Photo by: Flickr user Stonehenge Stone Circle

Bamboo Annals: double dawn
Liu, Liu, and Ma, 2003, Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage (ISSN 1440-2807), Vol. 6, No. 1, p. 53 – 63, Figure 2. Bamboo Annals: double dawn.….6…53L/0000060.000.html

Cuneiform tablet: ephemeris of eclipses
Seleucid ca. 4th–2nd century BCE / Met Museum

Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak and Jean Meeus (NASA’s GSFC)
Five Millennium Canon of Lunar Eclipses

Saros series (via NASA)
Adapted from a Map illustration by Michael Zeiler
Paths of totality from eclipse calculator by Xavier Jubier
Eclipse predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Many Saros Series
Adapted from:
Credit: Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA GSFC Emeritus.

Lizah van der Aart • Sarah Berman • Cameron Duke
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Brown, Daniel. “Blood Moon: Lunar Eclipse Myths from around the World.” The Conversation,

Carman, Christián C., and James Evans. “On the Epoch of the Antikythera Mechanism and Its Eclipse Predictor.” Archive for History of Exact Sciences, vol. 68, no. 6, Nov. 2014, pp. 693–774,

COLTON, R., and R. L. MARTIN. “Eclipse Cycles and Eclipses at Stonehenge.” Nature, vol. 213, no. 5075, Feb. 1967, pp. 476–478,

de Jong, T., and W. H. van Soldt. “The Earliest Known Solar Eclipse Record Redated.” Nature, vol. 338, no. 6212, Mar. 1989, pp. 238–240,

Espenak, Fred. “NASA – Eclipses and the Saros.”,

Espenak, Fred, and Jean Meeus. Five Millennium Canon of Lunar Eclipses. 7 Aug. 2021.

Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses. 30 July 2021.

HAWKINS, GERALD S. “Stonehenge: A Neolithic Computer.” Nature, vol. 202, no. 4939, June 1964, pp. 1258–1261,

Hermann Hunger, and David Pingree. Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia. Leiden ; Boston, Brill, 1999.

HOYLE, FRED. “Stonehenge–an Eclipse Predictor.” Nature, vol. 211, no. 5048, July 1966, pp. 454–456,,

Liu, C., et al. “Examination of Early Chinese Records of Solar Eclipses.” Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, vol. 6, no. 1, 2003, pp. 53–63,….6…53L

“NASA – Sun-Earth Day – Technology through Time – Babylon”.

Rubio, Gonzalo. “How Eclipses Were Regarded as Omens in the Ancient World.” The Conversation,

Tsu, Wen Shion. “A Statistical Survey of Solar Eclipses in Chinese History.” Popular Astronomy, vol. 42, no. 136, 1934,…..42..136T