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How We Learned to Predict Solar Eclipses

rod

Oct 22, 2019
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Very enjoyable and the story of Hi and Ho - very bad outcome for these ancient astronomers :) Assyrian and Babylonian astronomers worked hard to predict solar eclipses and lunar eclipses and we have records from this time too as well as solar and lunar eclipses recorded in the work of Claudius Ptolemy. Josephus writings record a lunar eclipse near the time of Herod's death - important in the chronology of dating the time of Jesus Christ birth and narratives. It was difficult in the ancient world but today, the modern, heliocentric solar system with elliptical orbit of the Moon and knowledge of gravity, makes it much better and much more accurate to predict, like the 21-Augus-2017 total solar eclipse across the USA. If I recall correctly, it was the son of Charles Darwin, George Darwin who observed and measured solar eclipses in the 1880s using the telescopes of that period, understood the Moon is slowly receding from Earth orbit. That lead to the hypothesis of the rapidly spinning Earth with fission of the Moon from Earth, then its slow recession from Earth to present orbit. Others today research Assyrian and Babylonian solar eclipse records preserved in archaeology, efforts to reconstruct the Earth's past rotation and slow changes compared to the present, as well as slow expansion of the Moon's orbit.
 

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