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Eclipse Quotations - Part II

Compiled by David Le Conte

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This collection of quotations concentrates on solar eclipses, but a few referring to lunar eclipses are included. Some are from literary sources, while others are predictions and records. I have avoided scientific reports, preferring to include descriptive accounts. The quotations are in chronological order. Dates are generally in the Julian Calendar until 1582, and in the Gregorian Calendar thereafter. Some links are provided to maps of historic eclipses by Fred Espenak, Goddard Space Flight Center.

The compiler is grateful to those organisations which have given permission to use copyright material for this web page. The compiler grants general permission to use the page for educational purposes, subject to appropriate credit being given. However, users should note that reproduction of some material may require specific copyright clearance.

Additional quotations and comments on this page are welcome, and should be sent to: David Le Conte.

Last updated 6 December 1998, when there were almost 200 quotations. Further quotations, which have been referenced but not quoted, will be added if and when copyright clearance is received.

Because of the volume of material, "Eclipses Quotations" is organized into four web pages:

Eclipse Quotations - Part I

Eclipse Quotations - Part II

Eclipse Quotations - Part III

Eclipse Quotations - Part IV

"36th year of Empress Suiko, spring, 2nd month, 27th day. The Empress took to her sick bed. 3rd month, 2nd day. There was a total eclipse of the Sun. 6th day. The Empress' illness became very grave and (death) was unmistakably near . . . 7th day. The Empress died at the age of seventy-five."

Refers to a total solar eclipse of10 April AD 628, in the Yamato region of Japan.
From: Japanese history.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 267.

"Eclipses of the Sun or Moon may begin or end early or late; they can deviate from normal in either direction. Therefore it is necessary to observe 12-1/2 marks (i.e.3 hours) before and after the predicted time."

From: Sui-shi (Chinese calandrical treatise, compiled around AD 630).
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 284.

"In this year the Sun was eclipsed on the 5th of the Nones of May; and Earcenbryht, the King of the Kentish people died and Ecgbryht his son succeeded to the Kingdom."


Refers to the total solar eclipse of 1 May AD 664.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles.
Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams.

"In this year Aethelbald captured Somerton; and the Sun was eclipsed, and all the Sun‘s disc was like a black shield; and Acca was driven from his bishopric."

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle.
Refers to the annular solar eclipse of 14 August AD 733.
(Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams, and in The Sun in Eclipse by Maunder and Moore, who say it refers to an eclipse of AD716.)

"In the year 733 an eclipse of the Sun occurred on the 19th day before the Kalends of September (i.e. Aug 14), about the third hour of the day, with the result that almost the whole of the Sun's disc seemed to be covered by a black and horrid shield."

Refers to an annular solar eclipse in northern England of 14 August AD 733.
From: Bedae Continuato.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 422.

"One year after the Arabs had been driven back across the Pyrenees after the battle of Tours, the Sun was so much darkened on 19th [?] August as to excite universal terror."

Refers to the annular eclipse of 14 August AD 733.
From: The Chronik der Seuchen.
Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams.

"The moon was as though drenched with blood."

Refers to a lunar eclipse in AD 734.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles translated and collated by Anne Savage, CLB Publishing Ltd.

"Moreover, the Moon was covered with a blood-red colour on the 8th day before the Kalends of December [ie 24 November] when 15 days old, that is, the Full Moon; and then the darkness gradually decreased and it returned to its original brightness. And remarkably indeed, a bright star following the Moon itself passed through it, and after the return to brightness it preceded the Moon by the same distance as it had followed the Moon before it was obscured."

Refers to a lunar eclipse of 23 November AD 755, when the eclipsed Moon occulted Jupiter.
Simeon of Durham.
Quoted in Encyclopedia Britannica CD 98.

"The moon was darkened during the second hour of the night of January 16th."

Refers to a lunar eclipse in AD 800.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles translated and collated by Anne Savage, CLB Publishing Ltd.

"The moon was darkened on September 1st."

Refers to a lunar eclipse in AD 806.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles translated and collated by Anne Savage, CLB Publishing Ltd.

"The sun darkened at the beginning of the fifth hour of the day on Tuesday, July 16th, the 29th day of the moon."

Refers to a solar eclipse in AD 809.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles translated and collated by Anne Savage, CLB Publishing Ltd.

"The moon darkened on Christmas eve."

Refers to a lunar eclipse in AD 829.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles translated and collated by Anne Savage, CLB Publishing Ltd.

"In the third year of the Indiction, the Sun was hidden from this world and stars appeared in the sky as if it were midnight, on the third day before the Nones of May (May 5) during the Litanies of Our Lord. There was great distress, and while the people beheld it, many thought that this age would last no longer. But while they were contemplating these simple things, the Sun shone again and trembling as it were began to escape from its former shade."

Refers to a total solar eclipse of 5 May AD 840.
From: Andreas Bergomatis Chronicon.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 387.
Click here for Fred Espenak's map of this eclipse.

"This solar eclipse was observed by Abu al-'Abbas al-Iranshahri at Nishapur early in the morning on Tuesday the 29th of the month of Ramadan in the year 259 of al-Hijrah . . . (date on the Persian calendar) . . . He mentioned that the Moon's body (i.e. disk) was in the middle of the Sun'd body. The light from the remaining uneclipsed portion of the Sun surrounded it (i.e. the Moon). It was clear from this that the Sun's diameter exceeded in view that of the Moon."

Refers to an annular eclipse of 28 July AD 873.
From: al-Biruni al-Qanun al-Mas'udi (1030).
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 467.

"The Sun was eclipsed at 1 hour of the day."

Refers to the total solar eclipse of 29 October AD 878.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles.
Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams.

". . . the sun darkened for one hour of the day."

This solar eclipse is recorded under the entries for the AD 879, but is probably the one on 29 October AD 878.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles translated and collated by Anne Savage, CLB Publishing Ltd.

"An eclipse of the sun; and stars were seen in the heavens."

Refers to the total solar eclipse of 16 June AD 885.
From: The Chronicon Scotorum
Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams.

"The moon darkened."

Refers to a lunar eclipse of AD 904.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles translated and collated by Anne Savage, CLB Publishing Ltd.

"(This) solar eclipse was calculated and observed by Abu al-Hassan Ali ibn Amajur, who used the al-Zij al-Arabi of Habash . . . We as a group observed and clearly distinguished it . . . We observed this eclipse at several sites on the Tarmah (an elevated platform on the outside of the building) . . . According to calculation from the conjunction tables in the habash Zij the middle was at 0;31 h (i.e. 31 min) and its clearance at 0;44 hours (i.e. 44 min), calculation being in advance of observation."

Refers to a solar eclipse of 11 November AD 923.
From: Ibn Yunus.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 459.

"When the Emperor was waging war in Syria, at the winter solstice there was an eclipse of the Sun such as has never happened apart from that which was brought on the Earth at the Passion of our Lord on account of the folly of the Jews. . . The eclipse was such a spectacle. It occurred on the 22nd day of December, at the 4th hour of the day, the air being calm. Darkness fell upon the Earth and all the brighter stars revealed themselves. Everyone could see the disc of the Sun without brightness, deprived of light, and a certain dull and feeble glow, like a narrow headband, shining round the extreme parts of the edge of the disc. However, the Sun gradually going past the Moon (for this appeared covering it directly) sent out its original rays, and light filled the Earth again."

Refers to a total solar eclipse in Constantinople of 22 December AD 968.
From: Leo the Deacon, Historiae, Byzantine.

Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 390, and, in part, in Encyclopaedia Britannica CD 98.

"The Sun was eclipsed . . . . Some people say that it was entirely total. During the hours mao and ch'en (some time between 5 and 9 h) it was all gone. It was the colour of ink and without light. All the birds flew about in confusion and the various stars were all visible. There was a general amnesty (on account of the eclipse)."
From: Nihon Kiryaku.

"At the hour ch'en (7-9 h), the Sun was eclipsed; it was completely total. All under heaven became entirely dark and the stars were all visible."
From: Fuso Ryakki.

"The Sun was eclipsed; it was all gone. It was like ink and without light. The stars were all visible (or: stars were visible in the daytime)."
From: Hyaku Rensho.

These three Japanese quotations refer to a total solar eclipse of 9 August AD 975.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, pages 267 and 268.

"The faculty of sight cannot resist it (the Sun's rays), which can inflict a painful injury. If one continues to look at it, one's sight becomes dazzled and dimmed, so it is preferable to look at its image in water and avoid a direct look at it, because the intensity of its rays is thereby reduced . . . Indeed such observations of solar eclipses in my youth have weakened my eyesight."

From: al-Biruni, Kitab Tahdid (1025).
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 463.

"They call it a great wonder
That the Sun would not
though the sky was cloudless
Shine warm upon the men."

Sighvald, Icelandic poet.
Said to refer to a solar eclipse of AD 1030, during a battle near Trondheim.

"On Wednesday, when two nights remained to the completion of the month Jumada, two hours after daybreak, the sun was eclipsed totally. There was darkness and the birds fell whilst flying. The astrologers claimed that one-sixth of the Sun should have remained [uneclipsed] but nothing of it did so. The Sun reappeared after four hours and a fraction. The eclipse was not in the whole of the Sun in places other than Baghdad and its provinces."

Refers to a solar eclipse of 20 June 1061.
From: Ibn al-Jawzi, Islamic.
Quoted in Encyclopedia Britannica CD 98.

"The moon darkened three nights before Candlemas.."

Refers to a lunar eclipse of 1078.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles translated and collated by Anne Savage, CLB Publishing Ltd.

"On the sixth day of the month of February between the sixth and ninth hours the Sun was obscured for the space of three hours; it was so great that any people who were working indoors could only continue if in the meantime they lit lamps. Indeed some people went from house to house to get lanterns or torches. Many were terrified."

Refers to a solar eclipse of 16 February 1086.
Goffredo Malaterra, Chronicle of the Norman rule in Sicily and southern Italy during the 11th century.
Quoted in Encyclopedia Britannica CD 98.

"On the fifteenth night of the month of May, the moon appeared, shining brightly; then little by little its light waned, so that as soon as it was night it was so fully quenched that neither light nor circle nor anything at all of it was seen, and so it stayed for full nigh a day. later, full and brightly shining, it appeared; it was on that same day fourteen nights old. All that night the sky was very clear, and the stars over all the heavens brightly shining."

Refers to a lunar eclipse of 1110.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles translated and collated by Anne Savage, CLB Publishing Ltd.

". . . and on the night of December 11th, the moon was long into the night as though all bloody, and after, it was darkened. Also, on the night of December 16th, the heavens were seen to be as red as though they were burning."

Refers to a lunar eclipse of 1117.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles translated and collated by Anne Savage, CLB Publishing Ltd.

"The moon darkened on the eve of April 5th; that was the fourteenth day of the moon."

Refers to a lunar eclipse of 1121.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles translated and collated by Anne Savage, CLB Publishing Ltd.

"In the month of August on the 11th day, before the evening service, the Sun began to diminish and perished completely. Great fright and darkness everywhere. And the stars appeared and the Moon (sic). And the Sun began to augment and became full again and everyone in the town was very glad."

Refers to a total solar eclipse in Novgorod, Russia, of 11 August 1124.
From: Novorodskaya I Letopic.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 391.

"The elements manifested their sorrow at this great man's [King Henry 1] departure from England. For the Sun on that day at the 6th hour shrouded his glorious face, as the poets say, in hideous darkness, agitating the hearts of men by an eclipse; and on the 6th day of the week early in the morning there was so great an earthquake that the ground appeared absolutely to sink down; an horrid noise being first heard beneath the surface."

Refers to the total solar eclipse of 2 August 1133.
William of Malmesbury Historia Novella, Lib. i sec.8.
Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams.

"Duke Frederick . . . set fire to the town of Augsburg and killed many of its citizens . . . An eclipse of the Sun occurred on the 4th day before the Nones of August at midday for about an hour, such as is not seen in a thousand years. Eventually the whole sky was dark like night, and stars were seen over almost the whole sky. At length the Sun, emerging from the darkness, appeared like a star, afterwards in the form of a new Moon; finally it assumed its original form."

Refers to a total solar eclipse in Augsburg of 2 August 1133.
From: Honorii Augustodensis: Summa Totius et Imagine Mundi.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 392.

"In the year of the Incarnation of our Lord 1133 . . . on the 4th day before the Nones of August (Aug 2), the 4th day of the week (Wednesday) when the day was declining towards the ninth hour, the Sun in a single moment became as black as pitch, day was turned into night, very many stars were seen, objects on the ground appeared as they usually do at night."

Refers to a total solar eclipse in Heilsbronn, Germany, of 2 August 1133.
From: Notae Halesbrunnenses.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 392.

"In this year King Henry went over sea at Lammas, and the second day as he lay and slept on the ship the day darkened over all lands; and the Sun became as it were a three-night-old Moon, and the stars about it at mid-day. Men were greatly wonder-stricken and were affrighted, and said that a great thing should come thereafter. So it did, for the same year the king died on the following day after St Andrew‘s Mass-day, Dec 2 in Normandy."

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle
Refers to the total solar eclipse of 2 August 1133.
(Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams.)

"That great eclipse of the Sun occurred on the 4th day before the Nones of August, the 27th day of the Moon, the 13th year of the Indiction. After midday, between the 7th and 8th hours, an eclipse of the Sun was seen in Leo . . . Very many stars were seen near the Sun; the hearts of many were transfixed, despairing of the light. The Sun, as if it did not exist was entirely concealed; for about half an hour it was like night. The face of the world was sad, terrible, black, wonderful."

Refers to a total solar eclipse of 2 August 1133.
From: Chronicon Magni Presbyterii.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 393.

"During this year, in Lent, on the 13th of the Calends of April, at the 9th hour of the 4th day of the week, there was an eclipse, throughout England, as I have heard. With us, indeed, and with all our neighbours, the obscuration of the Sun also was so remarkable, that persons sitting at the table, as it then happened almost everywhere, for it was lent, at first feared that Chaos had come again: afterwards, learning the cause, they went out and beheld the stars around the Sun. It was thought and said by many not untruly, that the King [Stephen] would not continue a year in government."

William of Malmesbury Historia Novella, Lib. ii sec.35.
Refers to the total solar eclipse of 20 March 1140.
(Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams.)

"In this year on the 4th day before the Nones of August in the heat of midday the Sun suddenly disappeared and a little afterwards it seemed terribly darkened over like Sackcloth of hair; and stars also appeared in the sky."

Refers to a total solar eclipse in Salzburg, Austria, of 2 August 1133.
From: S. Rudperti Salisurgensis Annales Breves.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 393.

"Afterwards in lent the Sun and the day darkened about the noontide of the day, when men were eating, and they lighted candles to eat by; and that was the 13th of the Calends of April [20 March]. Men were greatly wonder-stricken."

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle
Refers to the total solar eclipse of 20 March 1140.
(Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams.)

"In this year King Henry went over sea at Lammas, and the second day as he lay and slept on the ship the day darkened over all lands; and the Sun became as it were a three-night-old Moon, and the stars about it at mid-day. Men were greatly wonder-stricken and were affrighted, and said that a great thing should come thereafter. So it did, for the same year the king died on the following day after St Andrew's Mass-day, Dec 2 in Normandy."

Refers to the total solar eclipse of 2 August 1133.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams.
In The Anglo Saxon Chronicles translated and collated by Anne Savage, CLB Publishing Ltd., this entry is translated as:-

"King Henry went over the sea at Lammas; on the second day that he lay asleep in the ship, the day darkened over all the land, the sun became like a three-day-old moon, and there were stars around it at mid-day. Men wondered greatly, and dreaded, and said that a great thing should come thereafter; so it did for that same year the king was dead, the second day after St Andrew's Day. Then the land was waste, for every man plundered it over who might."

"Shao-hsing reign period, 5th year, 1st month, the first day of the month. A man named Ch'en Te-I predicted that the Sun should be 8-1/2 tenths eclipsed with the beginning of loss in the initial half of the hour of the sxu. (These predictions) were verified by observation."

Refers to a partial solar eclipse of 16 January 1135.
From: Sung-shih (Chinese).
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 253.

"Afterwards in lent the Sun and the day darkened about the noontide of the day, when men were eating, and they lighted candles to eat by; and that was the 13th of the Calends of April [20 March]. Men were greatly wonder-stricken."

Refers to the total solar eclipse of 20 March 1140.
From: The Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams.

"During this year, in Lent, on the 13th of the Calends of April, at the 9th hour of the 4th day of the week, there was an eclipse, throughout England, as I have heard. With us, indeed, and with all our neighbours, the obscuration of the Sun also was so remarkable, that persons sitting at the table, as it then happened almost everywhere, for it was lent, at first feared that Chaos had come again: afterwards, learning the cause, they went out and beheld the stars around the Sun. It was thought and said by many not untruly, that the King [Stephen] would not continue a year in government."

Refers to the total solar eclipse of 20 March 1140.
From: William of Malmesbury, Historia Novella, Lib. ii sec.35.
Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams.

"On Sunday, the 7th day before the Kalends of November (Oct 26), a solar eclipse occurred at the 3rd hour and persisted until after the 6th . This eclipse stood fixed and motionless for a whole hour, as noted on the 'clock' . . . During this hour a circle of different colours and spinning rapidly was said to be in the way."

Refers to an annular eclipse in Brauweiler, Germany, of 26 October 1147.
From: Annales Brunwilarensis.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 394.

"In this year the Sun was eclipsed totally and the Earth was in darkness so that it was like a dark night and the stars appeared. That was the forenoon of Friday the 29th of Ramadan at Jazirat Ibn 'Umar, when I was young and in the company of my arithmetic teacher. When I saw it I was very much afraid; I held on to him and my heart was strengthened. My teacher was learned about the stars and told me, 'Now, you will see that all of this will go away', and it went quickly."

Refers to a solar eclipse of 11 April 1176. Jazirat Ibn 'Umar is now Cizre in Turkey.
From: Ibn al-Athir.
Reprinted from Chasing the Shadow, copyright 1994 by Joel K Harris and Richard L Talcott, by permission of Kalmbach Publishing Co; Also quoted in Encyclopaedia Britannica CD 98.

"In this year 1487 (Seleucid), on New Sunday, the 11th of the month of Nisan [April], at daybreak, at the end of Office, that is, after the reading of the Gospel, the Sun was totally obscured; night fell and the stars appeared; the Moon itself was seen in the vicinity of the Sun. This was a sad and terrifying sight, which caused many people to lament with weeping; the sheep, oxen and horses crowded together in terror. The darkness lasted for two hours; afterwards the light returned. Fifteen days after, in this month of Nisan at the decline of Monday, at dusk, there was an eclipse of the Moon in the part of the sky where the eclipse of the Sun had taken place . . ."

Refers to a total solar eclipse at Antioch of 11 April 1176.
From: Chronicle of Michael the Syrian.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 394.

"The Sun was eclipsed and it became dark in the daytime. People were frightened and stars appeared."

Refers to the solar eclipse of 11 April 1176.
From: Imad al-Din, Islamic. Chronicle of the crossing of the Orontes River, near Hamah (in present-day Syria) by Saladin and his army.
Quoted in Encyclopedia Britannica CD 98.

". . . the Minamato army fled, frightened by a solar eclipse."

Refers to an annular eclipse of 17 November 1183.
From: Gehpei seiseiki (Japanese history of the Minamato and Taira clans).
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 266.

"On the first day of the month of May, on the day of the Saint Prophet Jeremiah, on Wednesday, during the evening service, there was a sign in the Sun. It became very dark, even the stars could be seen; it seemed to men as if everything were green, and the Sun became like a crescent of the Moon, from the horns of which a glow similar to that of red-hoot charcoals was emanating. It was terrible to see this sign of the Lord."
From: Lavrentievskaya Letopis.

"On the first day of the month of May, during the ringing of the bells for the evening service, there was a sign in the Sun. It became very dark for an hour or longer and the stars were visible and to men everything seemed as if it were green. The Sun became like a crescent of the new Moon and from its horns a glow like a roasting fire was coming forth and it was terrible to see the sign of the Lord. Then the Sun cleared and we were happy again."
From: Novgorodskaya II Letopis

Both of these quotations refer to a total solar eclipse in Novgorod, Russia, of 1 May 1185.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 395.

"In the month of June, the Vigil of the Nativity of St John the Baptist (Jun 23), the 9th day before the Kalends of July, on the 27th day of the Moon, at the 9th hour of the day, the Sun was eclipsed and it lasted for three hours; the Sun was so obscured that the darkness arose over the Earth and stars appeared in the sky. And when the eclipse withdrew, the Sun returned to its original beauty."

Refers to an annular eclipse of 23 June 1191.
From: Stubbs, Gesta Regis Henrici II et Ricardi I (1867).
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 381.

"On the first day of the fifth month (May 23), at noon, the Sun was eclipsed and it was total. All the stars were therefore seen. A short while later the brightness returned. At that time we were on the southern bank of the river. The eclipse (began) at the south-west and (the Sun) reappeared from the north-east. At that place it is cool in the morning and warm in the evening; there are many yellow flowers among the grass. The river flows to the north-east. On both banks there are many tall willows. The Mongols use them to make their tents.

[Later] (Ch'ang-ch'un) asked (an astronomer) about the solar eclipse on the first day of the month (May 23). The man replied: 'Here the Sun was eclipsed up to 7 fen (6/10) at the hour of ch'en (7-9 h)'. The Master continued, 'When we were by the Lu-chu Ho (Kerulen River), during the hour wu (11-13 h) the Sun was seen totally eclipsed and also south-west of Chin-shan the people there said that the eclipse occurred at the hour szu (9-11 h) and reached 7 fen. At each of these three places it was seen differently. According to the commentary on the Ch'un-ch'iu by K'ung Ying-ta, when the body (of the Moon) covers the Sun, then there will be a solar eclipse. Now I presume that we must have been directly beneath it; hence we observed the eclipse to be total. On the other hand, those people on the sides (of the shadow) were further away and hence (their view) gradually became different. This is similar to screening a lamp with a fan. In the shadow of the fan there is no light or brightness. Further away from the sides (of the fan) then the light of the lamp gradually becomes greater."

Refers to a total solar eclipse of 23 May 1221.
From: Ch'ang-ch'un Chen-jen Tao-ts'ang('The Journey of the Adept Ch'ang-ch'un to the West').
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 254.

"On the 14th May, which was the Tuesday in Rogation Week, the unusual eclipse of the Sun took place very early in the morning, immediately after sunrise; and it became so dark that the labourers, who had commenced their morning's work, were obliged to leave it, and returned again to their beds to sleep; but in about an hour's time, to the astonishment of many, the Sun regained its usual brightness."

Refers to the total solar eclipse of 14 May 1230.
From: Rogerus de Wendover, Flores Historiarum, vol. ii. p.235.
Quoted in UK Solar Eclipses from Year 1 by Williams,
and in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 425.
Click here for Fred Espenak's map of this eclipse.

"The Sun was obscured on Friday at the 6th hour of the day, and it lasted for a while between the 6th and 9th hours and it lost all its strength and there was as though night. There appeared many stars, and then the Sun grew bright again of its own accord, but for a long time it did not regain the strength that it usually has."

From: Anales Toledanos Segundos.

"While I was in the city of Arezzo, where I was born, and in which I am writing this book, in our monastery, a building which is situated towards the end of the fifth latitude zone, whose latitude from the equator is 42 and a quarter degrees and whose westerly longitude is 32 and a third, one Friday, at the 6th hour of the day, when the Sun was 20 deg in Gemini and the weather was calm and clear, the sky began to turn yellow and I saw the whole body of the Sun covered step by step and it became night. I saw Mercury close to the Sun, and all the animals and birds were terrified; and the wild beasts could easily be caught. There were some people who caught birds and animals, because they were bewildered. I saw the Sun entirely covered for the space of time in which a man could walk fully 250 paces. The air and the ground began to become cold; and it (the Sun) began to be covered and uncovered from the west."

From: Ristoro d'Arezzo, Della composizione del mondo

Both these quotations refer to a total solar eclipse in Toledo and Arezzo, Italy, respectively, of 3 June 1239.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, pages 385 and 397.

"On Friday at the beginning of June after the 9th hour, the Sun was covered with darkness and it became completely black. It remained like this for the space of an hour, and the Moon was in front of it. Almost all of the stars were manifestly seen in the sky and this appeared plainly to everyone. There was also a certain fiery aperture in the Sun's disc on the lower part. The Moon itself was on the 29th day. Night arose over the whole Earth. In verse:

'In the year one thousand, two hundred and thirty-nine
When June was beginning; on the third day;
The Sun was obscured, with its disc covered with darkness,
In full daylight the Sun became without light.
For a whole hour the Sun was dead and remote from us,
This marvel happened on the sixth day of the week.'"

Refers to a total solar eclipse in Cesena, Italy, of 3 June 1239.
From: Annales Caesenates .
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 399.

"On the 3rd day before the Nones of June (Jun 3), on the same day that Christ suffered, namely the 6th day of the week (Friday), and at the same time that darkness occurred over the whole of the Earth at the Passion of our Lord, namely from the 6th to the 9th hours of the era 1237, there occurred a sign such has never happened since the Passion of our Lord until the present day. There was indeed night between the 6th and 9th hours and the Sun became as black as pitch and the Moon (sic) and many stars appeared in the sky. Then the receding of the darkness of night was followed by the receding and recovering of the Sun's original clarity. Many men and women assembled in the Church of the Holy Cross in Coimbra . . . everywhere the rays of the Sun penetrated into some hole."

Refers to a total solar eclipse in Coimbra, Portugal, of 3 June 1239.
From: Chronicon Conimbricense, III.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 399.

"On the 3rd day of June, the whole of the Sun was obscured at the sixth hour and it remained obscured for several hours and from day it became night and the stars appeared; so that many people ignorant of the course of the Sun and the other planets marvelled greatly. . ."

Refers to a total solar eclipse in Florence of 3 June 1239.
From: Storie Fiorentina, IV.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 399.

"On Friday at the 6th hour, the Sun began to be obscured as if by a veil and was covered in a clear sky. At the ninth hour it was totally obscured, whence it gave no light; and as if a dark night arose with the result that a starry sky was seen, as on a clear night. People lit lamps in houses and shops. After some space of time it gradually became uncovered and restored to Earth, with the result that before the evening hour is was restored to its brilliance."

Refers to a total solar eclipse in Siena, Italy, of 3 June 1239.
From: Archivo de Duomo di Siena.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 400.

"At the same time, AD 1239 on the third day from the beginning of the month of June, a wonderful and terrible eclipse of the Sun occurred, for the entire Sun was obscured, and the whole of the clear sky was in darkness. Also stars appeared in the sky as if during the night, and a certain greater star shone beside the Sun on the western side. And such great fear overtook everyone, that just like madmen they ran about to and fro shrieking, thinking that the end of the world had come. However, it was a Friday, the 30th day of the (lunar) month. And although the same defection of the Sun appeared throughout the whole of Europe, it was not however spoken of in Asia and Africa."

Refers to a total solar eclipse in Split, Croatia of 3 June 1239.
From: Thomae Historia Pontificum Salonitanorum et Spalatinorum.
Quoted in Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation, by F Richard Stephenson, Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 401.

CONTRIBUTORS

David Sang, Association for Science Education
Gareth Coleman, Guernsey
Peter Hingley, Royal Astronomical Society

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