Sunday, August 13, 2017

Eclipse Corner #16 TIMING AND CULTURAL ASTRONOMY

     The exact times of the starting of the total eclipse or C2 are slightly different for towns in our area. In fact, there is some variance in numbers for exact times. Using the website: http://aa.usno.navy. mil/data/docs/SolarEclipse.php which the Eclipse Corner was using, was giving longer times for totality than the www.stlouiseclipse 2017.org site which is run by the St. Louis Eclipse Task Force.  There are possibilities for errors including the size of any town’s city limits may cover a second.   Calculations for the exact speed of the Earth and the Moon revolution and rotation can cause small discrepancies. The latest eclipse information should have included different elevations on Earth as well as the uneven surface of the Moon. The uneven shape of the Earth as an oblate spheroid enters into the thinking as well.  

eclipse begins  C1-  totality begins C2 -  endsC3            totality duration

Hermann - 11:47:30 AM.    1:14:30 PM. to 1:17:00 PM.            2m 30s          Owensville - 11:47:31 AM  1:14:42 PM. to 1:17:14 PM.            2m 32s         Rosebud - 11:47:42 AM.    1:14:49 PM. to 1:17:26 PM.            2m 37s    Sullivan - 11:48:15 AM.      1:15:31 PM. to 1:18:02 PM.            2m 31s

The eclipse will end near 2:55 PM, C4, for all in the local areas.




Solar Eclipse  Espenak –T01-03 01












     Historically, there are tales or legends of interesting activities taking place or changing during a total solar eclipse. In China, on October 22, 2134 BCE, two Imperial Astrologers, HIS and HO, failed to forecast the solar eclipse and were executed. Their job was prevention of eclipses which was deemed as condemnation of the ruler. Other cultures include Babylonia in 1702 BCE and Egypt 1100 BCE, although the loss of the Library of Alexandria in 390 AD destroyed much history. The Greeks ancient historian Herodotus recorded predicted eclipses in 710 BCE. The Stonehenge is missing evidence of one of the lunar motions which was necessary for eclipse prediction but it has precise marks for others. It was first built in roughly 7500 BC.
     The prediction of an eclipse by the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus may have used Egyptian technology rather than Greek. The eclipse occurred during a battle  between the Lydians and the Medes who simply lay down their weapons as the sky darkened.  The battle and the 15 year war came to a conclusion. Often called the Battle of the Eclipse, the eclipse worked as a peacemaker in 585 BCE.
     In the new world or western hemisphere , the Mayan culture was probably the foremost of the Mesoamerican cultures. Much of the history of the Mayans was destroyed by the Spanish destroying thousands of their hieroglyphic books. In the Dresden codex   brought back to Europe and interpreted later, showed Mayans astronomers proficiency in about 500 BCE where many of their buildings/cities are oriented by astronomy. Incas and Aztecs may have been in a similar state. The Aztecs have a connection with human sacrifice possibly at the time of eclipses as a time to repay the gods.
     In North America, the Anasazi group of native Americans of the Southwest United States including Chaco Canyon illustrated building according to the directions seen in astronomy. There are no records of Anasazi predictions. The Cahokian history in Illinois shows indications of  following the eclipse predictions, however in a city of dirt hills and wooden “stonehenge” poles setting their calendars, records are hard to find. There are no written manuscripts to help historians gain a good understanding.
     Solar Eclipses were more difficult to predict than Lunar Eclipses because the earth’s shadow is much larger (7,500) miles covering the smaller Moon than the Moon’s shadow (up to 160 miles) covering a larger earth. For ancient cultures, proof of a solar eclipse on the other side of the earth or in a different hemisphere was difficult. However, the mathematics of some of these ancient cultures was remarkable.
     History has fairly accurate records, however, Cultural Astronomers have a more formidable task. Cultural astronomers are more interested in what people believe about celestial happenings than the aspects of the celestial happenings themselves. Finally, as most of North America ends its ninety-nine year drought, we can get back into the meaning of “Midnight at Noon.”    Culturally, it will be fun to see what happens as we participate in minutes of totality from the solar eclipse. More information is coming with the Eclipse Corners.                                                                                         - Dan Slais

Dan Slais is a retired 8th grade earth science teacher from Waynesville, MO.  He has taught Astronomy and Geology for Columbia College and has worked as a seasonal National Park Ranger for seven seasons.  

Join us August 18-21, 2017 for Midnight at Noon, a four day music festival and eclipse viewing event in Owensville and Rosebud, MO.  For more information click HERE

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