300 Years of Eclipse Intrigue: 8 Primary Sources

Across North America people are poking holes in shoe boxes and going store to store to scoop up the last pairs of specialty “eclipse glasses” off the shelves. All of this preparation is  for the solar eclipse that will cast the moons shadow on a path across the globe Monday, August 21st. While we have come a long way in our understanding of eclipses public fascination and excitement is nothing new. In fact, historians have often used written records of solar eclipses as a tool to determine the precise date of historical events through comparisons to ancient calendars. For much of history eclipses were not well understood and considered bad omens and myths about them abounded. In 1715 there was the first time an instance of eclipse observed through a telescope,. As the science of astronomy became more sophisticated scientists recorded more informed and accurate observations and gained a greater understanding of eclipses.

The advancement of human understanding comes to life through primary source accounts of eclipses throughout the years. Below listed in chronological order are various accounts of and eyewitness testimonies about eclipses that have taken place over the last 300 years.

1724:

The Weekly Journal: Or, British Gazetteer. Being the freshest Advices Foreign and Domestick

From 17th and 18th Century Nichols Newspapers Collection

 

1748:

A dissertation on the general properties of eclipses; and particularly the ensuing eclipse of 1748, considered thro’ all its periods

From Eighteenth Century Collections Online

1764:

The nature and construction of a solar eclipse explained and exemplified in that which will happen on April 1st, A.D. 1764.

From Eighteenth Century Collections Online

 

1867:

THE SOLAR ECLIPSE.-Very few persons saw much

From The Times Digital Archive

 

 

1878:

Total Solar Eclipse of July 29, 1878, Observations at Pike’s Peak, Colorado, and Experiments in Aerodynamics by Samuel P. Langley, 1891

From Smithsonian Collections Online

 

1889:

The Solar Eclipse

From The International Herald Tribune Historical Archive

 

 

1889:

Correspondence regarding Solar Eclipse, January 1, 1889 from Samuel P. Langley

From Smithsonian Collections Online

 

1900:

1900 Solar Eclipse Expedition of the Astrophysical Observatory, 1904

From Smithsonian Collections Online

 

1973:

Solar Eclipse

From The International Herald Tribune Historical Archive

 

Leave a Comment