Eclipse:: The Celestial Phenomenon That Changed the Course of History

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November 2001



Whether interpreted as an auspicious omen or a sentinel of doom, eclipses have had a profound effect upon our cultural development. Throughout recorded history, they have evoked consternation, fear, and dread -- as well as awe and wonderment.Ancient peoples were clearly disconcerted by them. The Romans marked pivotal battles with the Greeks by references to an eclipse. The date of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ has been derived by using biblical mentions of an eclipse. Perhaps most famously, Christopher Columbus extorted much-needed foodstuffs from some increasingly unfriendly native hosts by purporting to demonstrate the wrath of his most powerful God when he accurately predicted a lunar eclipse.The pattern that eclipses follow -- a cycle, called the saros -- was actually calculated thousands of years ago. However, it is only with the help of modern computers that we have been able to analyze and appreciate the data. Eclipses provide unique opportunities for today's scientists to study such contrasting phenomena as the upper layers of the sun, the slowdown of our planet's spin rate, and the effects of celestial events on human psychology.In Eclipse, Duncan Steel expertly captures our continuing fascination with all manner of eclipses -- including the familiar solar and lunar varieties and other kinds involving stars, planets, asteroids, and comets as well as distant galaxies and quasars. Steel helps us see that, in astronomical terms, eclipses are really rather straightforward affairs. Moving beyond the mysticism and the magic, the science of eclipses is revealed.


Foreword by Paul Davies; Preface; From the Depths of Time: The Earliest Recorded Eclipses; The Heavenly Cycles; Making Predictions; A Warp in Space; The Turbulent Sun; Ancient Eclipses and the Length of the Day; Eclipses and the Size of the Sun; The American Eclipses of 1780 and 1806; The Rocky Mountain Eclipse of 1878; The Great New York City Winter Eclipse; Nantucket, the Astronomically Blessed; Eclipses of the Third Kind;...and a Fourth; Stepping Beyond the Solar System; An Eclipse Chaser's Guide; An Eclipse Whodunit; Appendix: Calculating Eclipses; Picture Credits; Glossary; Index


Duncan Steel, With a foreword by Paul Davies
EAN: 9780309074384
ISBN: 030907438X
Untertitel: Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: November 2001
Seitenanzahl: 492 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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