Catalog of Solar Eclipses of Historical Interest

Fred Espenak

Introduction

Both the popular and technical literature contain many references to solar eclipses of the past. Some of these references are from ancient texts. In other cases, they are attempts to tie an eclipse with a historical event. The purpose of this web page is to present eclipse calculations for many such eclipses mentioned in the literature.

The inclusion of an historical event in the tables below does not imply validation of the historical event nor its connection with an eclipse. Some events may be either apocryphal or fictional, or an eclipse may be incorrectly associated with a particular event. The eclipse maps and calculations are simply presented so that they may be compared with references in the literature. It is left to the reader to evaluate whether the eclipse association is valid or not.

The following two tables list solar eclipses identified with some historical event of note. When selected, each Calendar Date links to a web page for the eclipse that includes detailed predictions and a global map of Earth showing the region of visibility of the eclipse. The path of the Moon's penumbral shadow covers the region of partial eclipse, while the track of the umbral shadow defines the path of total or annular eclipse. These figures are described in greater detail in the Key to Solar Eclipse Maps.

The column labeled Eclipse Type defines the kind of solar eclipse (either Total or Annular) and links to a dynamic Google map with the eclipse path plotted on it. You can scroll and zoom in to any part of the eclipse path. If you click on a location, an marker will be plotted that gives the eclipse circumstances at that position. Markers can be dragged around with the mouse and the eclipse circumstances are automatically updated.

The column labeled Eclipse Magnitude is the fraction of the Sun's diameter obscured by the Moon. For annular eclipses, the eclipse magnitude is always less than 1. For total eclipses, the eclipse magnitude is always greater than or equal to 1. For both annular and total eclipses, the value listed is actually the ratio of diameters between the Moon and the Sun.

The column labeled Greatest Duration is the duration of a total or annular eclipse at Greatest Eclipse - the instant when the axis of the Moon's shadow passes closest to Earth's center.

The last column gives the historical reference for each eclipse. The references at the bottom of this page provide additional information on solar eclipses of historical interest. Special thanks to Norma Reis for her two contributed articles Solar Eclipses of History and Lunar Eclipses of History.

A complementary web page Catalog of Lunar Eclipses of Historical Interest is also available.

This web site is a work in progress. If you know of an historical eclipse of interest, please email the date and and some information and/or reference about the event to EclipseWise for possible future inclusion on this page.

Catalog of Solar Eclipses: 2000 BCE to 1 BCE 1
Calender DateEclipse
Type
Eclipse
Magnitude
Greatest
Duration

Event/Description/Reference
-2136 Oct 22
(2137 BCE)
Annular 0.974 02m52s Ho and Hi, the Drunk Chinese Astronomers - Note
-1532 May 10
(1533 BCE)
Total 1.076 06m12s Abraham in Canaan- Note
"And when the Sun was going down ... great darkness fell upon him."
- The Bible: Book of Genesis
-1374 May 03
(1375 BCE)
Total 1.029 02m07s Ugarit Eclipse - Note
"On the day of the new moon, in the month of Hiyar, the Sun was put to shame, and went down in the daytime, with Mars in attendance."
- Early Mesopotamian Records
-1301 Jun 05
(1302 BCE)
Total 1.080 06m25s Early Chinese Eclipse
"Three flames ate the sun, and big stars were seen."
- Chinese writings of the Shang Dynasty - Note
-1177 Apr 16
(1178 BCE)
Total 1.060 04m33s Homecoming of Odysseus - Note
". . . and the Sun has perished out of heaven, and an evil mist hovers over all."
- The Odyssey, Homer
-0898 Apr 21
(899 BCE)
Annular 0.959 03m04s China's 'Double-Dawn' Eclipse - Note
"During the first year of the reign of King Yi, in the first month of spring, the sun rose twice at Zheng."
- The Bamboo Annals
-0762 Jun 15
(763 BCE)
Total 1.060 05m00s Assyrian Eclipse - Note
"Insurrection in the city of Ashur. In the month Sivan, the Sun was eclipsed."
- The Assyrian Chronicles
-0647 Apr 06
(648 BCE)
Total 1.069 05m02s Archilochus' Eclipse - Note
-0584 May 28
(585 BCE)
Total 1.080 06m04s Thales Eclipse (Medes vs. Lydians) - Note
- History I, Herodotus
-0556 May 19
(557 BCE)
Total 1.026 02m22s The Siege of Larissa - Note
"...A cloud, however, overspread the sun and hid it from sight until the inhabitants abandoned their city; and thus it was taken."
- Anabasis, Xenophon
-0479 Oct 02
(480 BCE)
Annular 0.932 07m57s Xerxes' Eclipse- Note
"...while he was offering sacrifice to know if he should march out against the Persian, the sun was suddenly darkened in mid sky"
- History, IX, 10, Herodotus
-0430 Aug 03
(431 BCE)
Annular 0.984 01m04s Peloponnesian War - Note
". . . the sun assumed the shape of a crescent and became full again, and during the eclipse some stars became visible."
- History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides
-0423 Mar 21
(424 BCE)
Annular 0.943 04m39s 8th Year of Peloponnesian War - Note
"In first days of the next summer there was an eclipse of the sun at the time of new moon, and in the early part of the same month an earthquake."
- History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides

    1. BCE and CE are abbreviations for "Before Common Era" and "Common Era," respectively. They are the secular equivalents to the BC and AD dating conventions. (See: Year Dating Conventions)

Catalog of Solar Eclipses: 1 CE to 2050 CE 2
Calender DateEclipse
Type
Eclipse
Magnitude
Greatest
Duration
Event/Description/Reference
0029 Nov 24 Total 1.022 01m59s Crucifixion of Christ? - Note
0033 Mar 19 Total 1.058 04m06s Crucifixion of Christ? - Note
0059 Apr 30 Total 1.019 01m50s Plinius' Eclipse - Note
"Then the sun was suddenly darkened and the fourteen districts of the city were struck by lightning"
- The Annals
0071 Mar 20 Hybrid 1.007 00m35s Plutarch's Eclipse - Note
0334 Jul 17 Annular 0.976 02m23s Firmicus's Eclipse - Note
0418 Jul 19 Total 1.046 03m52s Comet During an Eclipse - Note
0569 Nov 24 Total 1.036 03m17s Eclipse Preceding Birth of Mohammad - Note
0632 Jan 27 Annular 0.984 01m40s Death of Mohammad's Son Ibrahim - Note
"When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred, and rumours of God's personal condolence quickly arose."
- Prayers of Muhammad
0840 May 05 Total 1.076 05m46s Emperor Louis' Eclipse (Treaty of Verdun) - Note
"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"
- Andreas Bergomatis Chronicon
0968 Dec 22 Total 1.030 02m28s First Clear Corona Description - Note
1133 Aug 02 Total 1.065 04m38s King Henry's Eclipse - Note
1230 May 14 Total 1.060 03m17s Major European Eclipse - Note
1337 Mar 03 Annular 0.954 04m32s Jean de Murs Eclipse - Note
1433 Jun 17 Total 1.071 04m38s Europe's "Black Hour" Eclipse - Note
1605 Oct 12 Total 1.034 02m43s Scientific Comment on Corona - Note
1715 May 03 Total 1.063 04m14s Edmund Halley's Eclipse - Note
"A few seconds before the sun was all hid, there discovered itself round the moon a luminous ring about a digit, or perhaps a tenth part of the moon's diameter, in breadth" - Edmund Halley
1724 May 22 Total 1.064 04m33s Corona Is Part of Sun - Note
1733 May 13 Total 1.066 04m06s Prominences Seen with Unaided Eye - Note
1766 Aug 05 Annular 0.943 05m15s Captain Cook's Eclipse - Note
1806 Jun 16 Total 1.060 04m55s Tecumseh's Eclipse - Note
1831 Feb 12 Annular 0.981 01m57s Nat Turner's Eclipse - Note
1836 May 15 Annular 0.951 04m47s Baily's Beads - Note
1842 Jul 08 Total 1.054 04m05s Corona and Prominences part of Sun's Atmosphere - Note
1851 Jul 28 Total 1.058 03m41s First Eclipse Expedition - Note
1860 Jul 18 Total 1.050 03m39s First Wet Plate Eclipse Photograph - Note
1868 Aug 18 Total 1.076 06m47s King of Siam's Eclipse - Note
1869 Aug 07 Total 1.055 03m48s New element in Sun's Corona? - Note
1870 Dec 22 Total 1.025 02m11s Janssen Escape Eclipse - Note
1871 Dec 12 Total 1.047 04m23s Corona Hot Gas and Cooler Particles - Note
1878 Jul 29 Total 1.045 03m11s Pike's Peak Eclipse - Note
1879 Jan 22 Annular 0.970 03m03s Zulu War Eclipse - Note
1887 Aug 19 Total 1.052 03m50s Eclipse from 11,500 feet - Note
1912 Apr 17 Hybrid 1.000 00m02s The 'Titanic' Eclipse - Note
1919 May 29 Total 1.072 06m51s Einstein's Eclipse (Test of General Relativity) - Note
1922 Sep 21 Total 1.068 05m59s General Relativity Reconfirmation - Note
1925 Jan 24 Total 1.030 02m32s NYC's Winter Morning Eclipse - Note
1932 Aug 31 Total 1.026 01m45s Great Maine Eclipse of 1932 - Note
1963 Jul 20 Total 1.022 01m40s Great Maine Eclipse of 1963 - Note
1970 Mar 07 Total 1.041 03m28s 1970 Total Eclipse through eastern USA - Note
1973 Jun 30 Total 1.079 07m04s SST Used to extend Totality 10x - Note
1979 Feb 26 Total 1.039 02m49s 1979 Total Eclipse through northwestern USA - Note
1991 Jul 11 Total 1.080 06m53s Great 1991 Eclipse through Hawaii and Mexico - Note
1999 Aug 11 Total 1.029 02m23s Last Total Solar Eclipse of Second Millennium - Note
2001 Jun 211 Total 1.050 04m57s First Total Solar Eclipse of Third Millennium - Note
2017 Aug 21 Total 1.031 02m40s Next Total Eclipse through central USA - Note
2024 Apr 08 Total 1.057 04m28s Upcoming Total Eclipse through USA - Note

    2. BCE and CE are abbreviations for "Before Common Era" and "Common Era," respectively. They are the secular equivalents to the BC and AD dating conventions. (See: Year Dating Conventions)

Notes

-2136 Oct 22 - Ho and Hi, the Drunk Chinese Astronomers

    This eclipse is associated with the legend of Ho and Hi, the drunk Chinese astronomers.

    "Here lie the bodies of Ho and Hi Whose fate though sad was visible, Being hanged because they could not spy Th'eclipse which was invisible."
    - Author unknown (story may be apocryphal)

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis).

-1532 May 10 - Abraham in Canaan

    This eclipse is associated with the the story of Abraham in Canaan.

    "And when the Sun was going down ... great darkness fell upon him."
    - The Bible: Book of Genesis

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis).

-1374 May 03 - Ugarit Eclipse

    Babylonian clay tablets that have survived since dawn of civilization record the earliest total solar eclipse seen in Ugarit, a port city in Northern Syria.

    "On the day of the new moon, in the month of Hiyar, the Sun was put to shame, and went down in the daytime, with Mars in attendance."
    - Early Mesopotamian Records

    For more information, see Eclipses and Calendars (NASA/GSFC).

-1301 Jun 05 - Early Chinese Eclipse

    This eclipse is associated with an early Chinese record from the Shang Dynasty.

    "Three flames ate the sun, and big stars were seen." - Chinese writings of the Shang Dynasty

    For more information, see Eclipses and Calendars ('Oracle Bones' Testify To an Ancient Eclipse).

-1177 Apr 16 - Homecoming of Odysseus

    This eclipse may be associated return of Odysseus to his wife Penelope, from Homer's Odyssey.

    ". . . and the Sun has perished out of heaven, and an evil mist hovers over all." - Homer, The Odyssey Wikipedia

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis).

-0898 Apr 21 - China's 'Double-Dawn' Eclipse

    This annular eclipse is associated with the unusual 'Double-Dawn' eclipse in China.

    "During the first year of the reign of King Yi, in the first month of spring, the sun rose twice at Zheng." - The Bamboo Annals

    For more information, see New Light on Eclipses (Los Angeles Times).

-0762 Jun 15 - Assyrian Eclipse

    This eclipse is associated with a record in an Assyrian historical chronicle as well as a passage in the Bible.

    "Insurrection in the City of Assur. In the month of Sivan, the Sun was eclipsed."
    - Eponym Canon

    "And on that day, says the Lord God, 'I will make the Sun go down at noon, and darken the Earth in broad daylight'"
    - The Bible: Amos 8:9

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis).

-0647 April 06 - Archilochus' Eclipse

    This eclipse is associated with the writings of the Greek poet Archilochus.

    "Zeus, the father of the Olympic Gods, turned mid-day into night, hiding the light of the dazzling Sun; and sore fear came upon men."
    "Nothing can be surprising any more or impossible or miraculous, now that Zeus, father of the Olympians has made night out of noonday, hiding the bright sunlight, and . . . fear has come upon mankind. After this, men can believe anything, expect anything. Don't any of you be surprised in future if land beasts change places with dolphins and go to live in their salty pastures, and get to like the sounding waves of the sea more than the land, while the dolphins prefer the mountains."
    - Archilochus, Greek poet

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis).

-0584 May 28 - Herodotus/Thales Eclipse

    This eclipse is associated with the writings of the historian Herodotus about the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus.

    "When, in the sixth year they encountered one another, it so fell out that, after they had joined battle, the day suddenly turned into night. Now that this transformation of day (into night) would occur was foretold to the Ionians by Thales of Miletus, who fixed as the limit of time this very year in which the change actually took place."
    ". . . there was war between the Lydians and the Medes five years. . . . They were still warring with equal success, when it chanced, at an encounter which happened in the sixth year, that during the battle the day turned to night. Thales of Miletus had foretold this loss of daylight to the Ionians, fixing it within the year in which the change did indeed happen. So when the Lydians and Medes saw the day turned to night, they ceased from fighting, and both were the more zealous to make peace."
    - History I, 74 by Herodotus

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis).

-0556 May 19 - The Siege of Larissa

    This eclipse is associated with the siege of Larissa by the Persians.

    "...A cloud, however, overspread the sun and hid it from sight until the inhabitants abandoned their city; and thus it was taken."
    - Anabasis, Xenophon

    For more information, see On the Eclipses of Agatholes, Larisa and Thales (MNRAS).

-0479 Oct 02 - Xerxes' Eclipse

    This eclipse is sometimes associated with war of Xerxes with the Greeks.

    "...while he was offering sacrifice to know if he should march out against the Persian, the sun was suddenly darkened in mid sky"
    - History, IX, 10, Herodotus

    For more information, see Xerxes I of Persia (Wikipedia) and Dating the reigns of Xerxes and Artaxerxes (academia.edu).

-0430 Aug 03 - Peloponnesian War

    This eclipse is associated with the oldest European record of a solar eclipse (annular)

    "During the same summer at the beginning of a lunar month (the only time, it seems, when such an occurrence is possible), the Sun was eclipsed after midday; it assumed the shape of a crescent, and became full again and during the eclipse some stars became visible."
    - History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides

    For more information, see Peloponnesian War (Wikipedia).

-0423 Mar 21 - 8th Year of Peloponnesian War

    This eclipse is associated with the second the oldest European record of a solar eclipse (annular)

    During the 8th Year of Peloponnesian War:
    "In first days of the next summer there was an eclipse of the sun at the time of new moon, and in the early part of the same month an earthquake."
    - History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides

    For more information, see Peloponnesian War (Wikipedia).

0029 Nov 24 - Crucifixion of Christ?

    One of several possible eclipses associated with the Crucifixion of Christ.

    "Jesus was delivered to him by Herod, Archelaus, Philip, Annas, Caiphas, and all the people. At his crucifixion the Sun was darkened; the stars appeared and in all the world people lighted lamps from the sixth hour till evening; the Moon appeared like blood."
    - Report of Pilate

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis) and Crucifixion Eclipse (Wikipedia)

    References:
    • Humphreys, Colin J. and Waddington, W. G., "Dating the Crucifixion", Nature, Vol. 306, No. 5945, p.743-746, 22 December 1983.
    • Schaefer, Bradley E., "Lunar Eclipses That Changed the World", Sky and Telescope, December, 1992, p.639-642.
    • Schaefer, Bradley E., "Dating the Crucifixion", Sky and Telescope, April, 1989, p.374.
    • Schaefer, Bradley E., "Lunar Visibility and the Crucifixion", Q. J. R. Astr. Soc., 1990, 31, p.53-67.

0033 Mar 19 - Crucifixion of Christ?

    One of several possible eclipses associated with the Crucifixion of Christ.

    "Jesus was delivered to him by Herod, Archelaus, Philip, Annas, Caiphas, and all the people. At his crucifixion the Sun was darkened; the stars appeared and in all the world people lighted lamps from the sixth hour till evening; the Moon appeared like blood."
    - Report of Pilate

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis) and Crucifixion Eclipse (Wikipedia)

    References:
    • Humphreys, Colin J. and Waddington, W. G., "Dating the Crucifixion", Nature, Vol. 306, No. 5945, p.743-746, 22 December 1983.
    • Schaefer, Bradley E., "Lunar Eclipses That Changed the World", Sky and Telescope, December, 1992, p.639-642.
    • Schaefer, Bradley E., "Dating the Crucifixion", Sky and Telescope, April, 1989, p.374.
    • Schaefer, Bradley E., "Lunar Visibility and the Crucifixion", Q. J. R. Astr. Soc., 1990, 31, p.53-67.

0059 Apr 30 - Plinius' Eclipse

    This eclipse is associated with Plinius.

    "Then the sun was suddenly darkened and the fourteen districts of the city were struck by lightning"
    - The Annals

    For more information, see Pliny the Elder (Wikipedia).

0071 Mar 20 - Plutarch's Eclipse

    This eclipse is associated with an eclipse described by Plutarch.

    "Now, grant me that nothing that happens to the sun is so like its setting as a solar eclipse. You will, if you call to mind this conjunction recently which, beginning just after noonday, made many stars shine out from many parts of the sky and tempered the air in the manner of twilight. If you do not recall it, Theon here will cite us Mimnermus and Cydias and Archilochus and Stesichorus besides and Pindar, who during eclipses bewail 'the brightest star bereft' and 'at midday night falling' and say that the beam of the sun '(is sped) the path of shade' ".
    - Moralia XII by Plutarch, "De facie in orbe lunae (On the face on the moon)"

    For more information, see: Stepenson and Fatoohi and Plutarch (Wikipedia).

0334 July 17 - Firmicus's Eclipse

    "Firmicus (Sicily) is first to report solar prominences, seen during an annular eclipse"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) by Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

0418 Jul 19 - Comet During an Eclipse

    "First report of a comet discovered during a solar eclipse, seen by the historian Philostorgius in Asia Minor"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) by Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

0569 Nov 24 - Birth of Mohammad

    This eclipse is associated with the Birth of Mohammad.

    For more information, see Muhammad (Wikipedia).

0632 Jan 27 - Death of Mohammad's Son Ibrahim

    This eclipse is associated with the death of Mohammad's Son Ibrahim.

    "When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred, and rumours of God's personal condolence quickly arose."
    - Prayers of Muhammad
    However, the Prophet stated "The Sun and Moon are signs of God and do not eclipse for the death or birth of any man."

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis) and Ibrahim ibn Muhammad (Wikipedia).

0840 May 05 - Emperor Louis' Eclipse (Treaty of Verdun)

    This eclipse is associated with Emperor Louis of Bavaria (son of Charlemagne). He was so terrified by the eclipse that he died shortly afterwards. A dispute over succession among his three sons eventually lead to the Treaty of Verdun, dividing Europe into France, Germany and Italy.

    "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"
    - Andreas Bergomatis Chronicon

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis) and Treaty of Verdun (Wikipedia).

0968 Dec 22 - First Clear Corona Description

    This eclipse is the first clear description of the corona seen during a total solar eclipse.

    "First clear description of the corona seen during a total eclipse--by a chronicler in Constantinople"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) by Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

1133 Aug 02 - King Henry's Eclipse

    This eclipse is associated with King Henry I of England as an omen of his impending death.

    "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."
    - Historia Novella by William of Malmesbury

    "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

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis) and Henry I of England (Wikipedia).

1230 May 14 - Major European Eclipse

    This eclipse is associated with descriptions of a total eclipse through Europe.

    "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."
    - Flores Historiarum - Rogerus de Wendover

1337 Mar 03 - Jean de Murs Eclipse

    This eclipse was observed by Jean de Murs.

    "Solar eclipse observed by Jean de Murs in St. Germain des Pres. He notes that there was a large error between the observed time and the time given by the Alphonsine tables and said that it is "necessary to quickly correct" the tables."
    - Dr. John Steele

1433 Jun 17 - Europe's "Black Hour" Eclipse

    This eclipse was recorded in Holinshed's Historie of Scotland.
    "In the same year the seventeenth day of June, was a terrible eclipse of the Sunne, at three of the clock at after noone, the day being darkened over head for the space of one half houre together, as though it had been night, and therefore it was called the black hour."

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis) and Holinshed's Chronicles (Wikipedia).

1605 Oct 12 - Scientific Comment on Corona

    "Johannes Kepler (Germany) is the first to comment scientifically on the solar corona, suggesting that it is light reflected from matter around the Sun (based on reports of eclipses; he never saw a total eclipse)"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

1715 May 03 - Edmund Halley's Eclipse

    This eclipse was observed by Sir Edmund Halley.

    "A few seconds before the sun was all hid, there discovered itself round the moon a luminous ring about a digit, or perhaps a tenth part of the moon's diameter, in breadth"
    - Edmund Halley

    Reference:

    • "Observations of the Late Total Eclipse of the Sun on the 22d of April Last Past . . .," Philosophical Transactions, 29 (1714-16): 245-6 - Edmond Halley

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis) and Edmund Halley (Wikipedia).

1724 May 22 - Corona Part of Sun

    "Jose Joaquin de Ferrer (Spain), observing at Kinderhook, New York, gives the name corona to the glow of the faint outer atmosphere of the Sun seen during a total eclipse; he proposes that the corona must belong to the Sun, not the Moon, because of its great size"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox.

    This eclipse was also observed by by Sir Edmund Halley.

    For more information, see

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis) and Edmund Halley (Wikipedia).

1733 May 13 - Prominences Seen with Unaided Eye

    "Birger Wassenius (Sweden), observing an eclipse near Gšteborg, is the first to report prominences visibleto the unaided eye; he attributes them to the Moon"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

1766 Aug 05 - Captain Cook's Eclipse

    This eclipse is associated with Captain Cook.

    For more information, see Captain Cook (Wikipedia).

1806 Jun 16 - Tecumseh's Eclipse

1831 Feb 12 - Nat Turner's Eclipse

1836 May 15 - Baily's Beads

    "Francis Baily (United Kingdom), during an annular eclipse in Scotland, calls attention to the brief bright beads of light that appear close to totality as the Sun's disk is blocked except for sunlight streaming through lunar valleys along the limb. This phenomenon becomes known as Baily's Beads"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

1842 Jul 8 - Corona and Prominences part of Sun's Atmosphere

    "Francis Baily (United Kingdom), at an eclipse in Italy, focuses attention on the corona and prominences and identifies them as part of the Sun's atmosphere"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

1851 Jul 28 - First Eclipse Expedition

    "The aspect of Nature during the total eclipse was grand beyond descriptions. This feature is dwelt upon with more than usual emphasis in many of the published accounts. I have never seen it suggested that the mountainous character of the country might have had something to do with it, but that idea would seem not improbable."
    - Hind

    "First astronomical photograph of a total eclipse: a daguerreotype by Berkowski at Kšnigsberg, Prussia"
    "Robert Grant and William Swan (United Kingdom) and Karl Ludwig von Littrow (Austria) determine that prominences are part of the Sun because the Moon is seen to cover and uncover them as it moves in front of the Sun"
    "George B. Airy (United Kingdom) is the first to describe the Sun's chromosphere: he calls it the sierra, thinking that he is seeing mountains on the Sun, but he is actually seeing small prominences (spicules) that give the chromosphere a jagged appearance. Because of its reddish color, J. Norman Lockyer names this layer of the Sun's atmosphere the chromosphere in 1868"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

    "The prominences were clearly visible, especially a large hooked protuberance. This remarkable stream of hydrogen gas, rendered incandescent while passing through the heated photosphere of the Sun, attracted the attention of nearly all the observers at the different stations."
    - Edwin Dunkin

    "The appearance of the corona, shining with a cold unearthly light, made an impression on my mind which can never be effaced, and an involuntary feeling of loneliness and disquietude came upon meÉ A party of haymakers, who had been laughing and chatting merrily at their work during the early part of the eclipse, were now seated on the ground, in a group near the telescope, watching what was taking place with the greatest interest, and preserving a profound silenceÉ A crow was the only animal near me; it seemed quite bewildered, croaking and flying backwards and forwards near the ground in an uncertain manner."
    - Article in Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society - John Couch Adams

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis)

1860 Jul 18 - First Wet Plate Eclipse Photograph

    "First wet plate photographs of an eclipse; they require 1/30 of the exposure time of a daguerreotype"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

1868 Aug 18 - King of Siam's Eclipse

    "During an eclipse seen from the Red Sea through India to Malaysia and New Guinea, prominences are first studied with spectroscopes and shown to be composed primarily of hydrogen by James Francis Tennant (United Kingdom), John Herschel (United Kingdom--son of John F. W. Herschel, grandson of William), Jules Janssen (France), Georges Rayet (France) and Norman Pogson (United Kingdom/India)"

    "Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen (France) and J. Norman Lockyer (United Kingdom) independently demonstrate that prominences are part of the Sun (not Moon) by observing them in days after the eclipse of August 18"

    "J. Norman Lockyer (United Kingdom) identifies a yellow spectral line in the Sun's corona as the signature of a chemical element as yet unknown on Earth. He later names it helium, after the Greek word helios, the Sun. Helium is first identified on Earth by William Ramsay in 1895"

    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) by Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

    For more information, see Mongkut (Wikipedia).

1869 Aug 07 - New element in Sun's Corona?

    "Charles Augustus Young and William Harkness (United States) independently discover a new bright (emission) line in the spectrum of the Sun's corona, never before observed on Earth; they ascribe it to a new element and it is named coronium. In 1941, this green line is identified by Bengt Edlen (Sweden) as iron that has lost 13 electrons"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

1870 Dec 22 - Janssen Escape Eclipse

    "Jules Janssen (France) uses a balloon to escape the German siege of Paris in order to study the December 22 eclipse in Algeria. He reaches Algeria, but the eclipse is clouded out"
    "Charles A. Young (United States), observing an eclipse in Spain, discovers that the chromosphere is the layer in the solar atmosphere that produces the dark lines in the Sun's spectrum"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

1871 Dec 12 - Corona Hot Gas and Cooler Particles

    "Jules Janssen (France) uses spectroscopy from an eclipse in India to propose that the corona consists of both hot gases and cooler particles and hence is part of the Sun"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) by Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

1878 Jul 29 - Pike's Peak Eclipse

    "Samuel P. Langley and Cleveland Abbe (United States), observing from Pike's Peak in Colorado, and Simon Newcomb (United States), observing from Wyoming, notice coronal streamers extending more than 6 degrees from the Sun along the ecliptic and suggest that this glow is the origin of the zodiacal light"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

    For more information, see

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis) and Pikes Peak (Wikipedia).

1879 Jan 22 - Zulu War Eclipse

    This eclipse is associated with the Zulu War.

    For more information, see Anglo-Zulu War (Wikipedia).

1887 Aug 19 - Eclipse from 11,500 feet

    "Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev (Russia) uses a balloon to ascend above the cloud cover to an altitude of 11,500 feet (3.5 kilometers) to observe an eclipse in Russia"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) by Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

1912 Apr 17 - The 'Titanic' Eclipse

    This eclipse is associated with the RMS Titanic.

    For more information, see RMS Titanic (Wikipedia).

1919 May 29 - Einstein's Eclipse (Test of General Relativity)

1922 - General Relativity Reconfirmation

    "William Wallace Campbell and Robert J. Trumpler (United States) reconfirm Einstein's relativistic bending of starlight during an eclipse in Wallal, Australia"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

    For more information, see Eclipse that Changed the Universe and Tests of General Rlativity (Wikipedia).

1925 Jan 24 - NYC's Winter Morning Eclipse

1932 Aug 31 - Great Maine Eclipse

    "G. G. Cillie (United Kingdom) and Donald H. Menzel (United States) use eclipse spectra to show that the Sun's corona has a higher temperature (faster atomic motion) than the photosphere. Confirmed, with much higher temperatures, by R. O. Redman during an eclipse in South Africa on October 1, 1940"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

    The path of totality passed through Quebec, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

1963 Jul 20 - Great Maine Eclipse

    The path of totality passed through Alaska, Yukon Territory, Nunanut, Saskatoon, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Maine.

1970 Mar 07 - Total Eclipse through eastern USA

    The path of totality passed across southern Mexico the southeast coast of the United States and Canada. States within the path included Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Nantucket, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.

1973 Jun 30 - SST Used to Extend Totality 10x

    "John Beckman (United Kingdom) and other scientists use a Concorde supersonic passenger jet flying at 1,250 miles per hour (2,000 kilometers per hour) over Africa to extend the duration of solar eclipse totality to 74 minutes--10 times longer than can ever be observed from the ground"
    - Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd edition) - Littmann, Espenak, and Willcox

1979 Feb 26 - Total Eclipse through northwestern USA

    This eclipse passed through the northwestern U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana (where totality covered almost the entire state), the north-central state of North Dakota, parts of the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and what is now the Canadian Territory of Nunavut, and Greenland.

1991 Jul 11 - 1991 Eclipse through Hawaii and Mexico

    This eclipse began over the Pacific Ocean and Hawaii moving across Mexico, down through Central America and across South America ending over Brazil. It lasted for 6 minutes and 53 seconds at the point of greatest eclipse. There will not be a longer total eclipse until June 13, 2132.

1999 Aug 11 - Last Total Solar Eclipse of the Second Millennium

    The path of the Moon's shadow began in the Atlantic Ocean and, before noon, was traversing the southern United Kingdom, northern France, Belgium, Luxembourg, southern Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, northern FR Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, the Black Sea, Turkey, Iran, southern Pakistan, India and ended in the Bay of Bengal.

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis)

2001 Jun 21 - First Total Solar Eclipse of the Third Millennium

    The central eclipse path crossed southern Atlantic Ocean and southern Africa. A partial eclipse was seen from the much broader path of the Moon's penumbra, including eastern South America and most of Africa.

    For more information, see Solar Eclipses of History (Reis)

2017 Aug 21 - Total Eclipse through central USA

    This eclipse path crosses through parts of 12 states. It makes landfall along coast of Oregon and races eastward through central Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina.

    For more information, see TSE 2017 Aug 21 (EclipseWise), Great American Eclipse 2017 and Eclipse 2017

2024 Apr 08 - Upcoming Total Eclipse through USA

    The total eclipse path crosses Mexico before entering the United States and passes through Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, New York, and Vermont. The path continues through Canada crossing parts of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland.

References for Catalog of Solar Eclipses of Historical Interest

Brewer, B., Eclipse, Earth View, Seattle, 1991.

Harris, Joel K., and Talcott, Richard L. Chasing the Shadow, Kalmbach Publishing Co, 1994.

Humphreys, Colin J. and Waddington, W. G., "Dating the Crucifixion", Nature, Vol. 306, No. 5945, p.743-746, 22 December 1983.

Littmann, M., Espenak, F., and Willcox, K. Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd Ed.), Oxford University Press, New York, 2008.

Reis, Norma, Solar Eclipses of History.

Schaefer, Bradley E., "Solar Eclipses That Changed the World", Sky and Telescope, May, 1994, p.36-39.

Schaefer, Bradley E., "Lunar Eclipses That Changed the World", Sky and Telescope, December, 1992, p.639-642.

Schaefer, Bradley E., "Dating the Crucifixion", Sky and Telescope, April, 1989, p.374.

Schaefer, Bradley E., "Lunar Visibility and the Crucifixion", Q. J. R. Astr. Soc., 1990, 31, p.53-67.

Steel, Duncan, Eclipse: The Celestial Phenomenon That Changed the Course of History (Washington, D.C.: The Joseph Henry Press, 2001)

Walters, Alice N., "Ephemeral Events: English Broadsides of Early Eighteenth-Century Solar Eclipses," Hist. Sci. 37 (1999)

Ancient and Early Medieval Eclipses in European Sources

Eclipse Quotations

Calendar

The Gregorian calendar (also called the Western calendar) is internationally the most widely used civil calendar. It is named for Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in 1582. On this website, the Gregorian calendar is used for all calendar dates from 1582 Oct 15 onwards. Before that date, the Julian calendar is used. For more information on this topic, see Calendar Dates.

The Julian calendar does not include the year 0. Thus the year 1 BCE is followed by the year 1 CE (See: BCE/CE Dating Conventions). This is awkward for arithmetic calculations. Years in this catalog are numbered astronomically and include the year 0. Historians should note there is a difference of one year between astronomical dates and BCE dates. Thus, the astronomical year 0 corresponds to 1 BCE, and astronomical year -1 corresponds to 2 BCE, etc..

Eclipse Predictions

Predictions for Catalog of Solar Eclipses of Historical Interest were generated using the JPL DE406 solar and lunar ephemerides. The lunar coordinates were calculated with respect to the Moon's Center of Mass. The predictions are first calculated in Terrestrial Dynamical Time (TD) and then converted to Universal Time (UT1). The parameter ΔT is used to convert between these two times (i.e., UT1 = TD - ΔT). A series of polynomial expressions have been derived to simplify the evaluation of ΔT for any time from -2999 to +3000. The uncertainty in ΔT over this period can be estimated from scatter in the measurements.

Acknowledgments

The Catalog of Solar Eclipses of Historical Interest page is part of the EclipsesWise.com web site. All eclipse calculations are by Fred Espenak, and he assumes full responsibility for their accuracy.

Permission is granted to reproduce eclipse data when accompanied by a link to this page and an acknowledgment:

"Catalog of Solar Eclipses of Historical Interest by Fred Espenak, www.EclipseWise.com"

The use of diagrams and maps is permitted provided that they are NOT altered (except for re-sizing) and the embedded credit line is NOT removed or covered.

Special thanks to Norma Reis for her two contributed articles Solar Eclipses of History and Lunar Eclipses of History.