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Eclipse! A Presentation to Astronomy Ireland By: David Grennan, 27 th February 2006 Solar Eclipses - Past, Present, and Future . Eclipse Mythology Chinese, Hindu, Egyptian , Impact on modern day science and religion. Mechanics of Solar Eclipses Why eclipses occur . Types of Eclipse .

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A Presentation to Astronomy Ireland

By: David Grennan, 27th February 2006


Solar Eclipses - Past, Present, and Future.

Eclipse Mythology

Chinese, Hindu, Egyptian, Impact on modern day

science and religion.

Mechanics of Solar Eclipses

Why eclipses occur.

Types of Eclipse.

Phases of an eclipse.


Bailys Beads.

Diamond Ring.





Solar Eclipses - Past, Present, and Future.

Safely Viewing Eclipses

Eclipse, March 29, 2006 aguide.

Using computer simulations

Eclipse from Ireland.

Eclipse from Turkey.

Eclipse from Space

Future Eclipses

Important Eclipses present – 2030

The 'almost' total eclipse of 2015 from Ireland.


Eclipse Lore

and Mythology

"Nothing there is beyond hope, nothing that can be sworn impossible,

nothing wonderful, since Zeus, father of the Olympians,

made night from mid-day, hiding the light of the shining Sun,

and sore fear came upon men." Archilochus(c.710 - 676 BC)


Eclipse Lore and Mythology

Our ancestors saw eclipses as evil omens, often as portents

of some catastrophic event or a sign from their deities.

The earliest recorded eclipse was in China on

October 22, 2134 BC. The two court astrologers to the

Emporer lost their heads because,theyhad failed to predict it

The Babylonians were the first to calculate the regular

intervals at which eclipses occur.

Thales of Miletus predicted a solar eclipse that marked

the beginning of the Greek scientific/philosophic era.


Eclipse Lore and Mythology

Word eclipse comes from a Greek word, “ekleipsis”

meaning abandonment.

There is a story that suggests Christopher Columbus used his

Knowledge of an upcoming lunar eclipse to great effect.


Ancient China

People of ancient China were convinced that eclipses

Occurred because a great dragon (or toad, or dog) was

Devouring the Sun.

They made load noises, banged implements etc to scare

Away the dragon.

As total eclipses can only last a maximum of 7 ½ minutes

There raucous behaviour always had the desired effect.


Ancient China

Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD)


Hindu Folklore

According to Hindu mythology, the eclipse represents

the demons Rahu and Keta locked in celestial combat and

eating the Sun.


Hindu Folklore

The Godswere drinking the elixir of immortality.

The demon Rahu slipped into their midst and stole a sip.

Surya (the sun) and Soma (the moon) reported the incident

to the great deity Vishnu.

Vishnu promptly sought out the impudent Rahu

and lopped off his head.

But having become deathless, Rahu survived and to this day

seeks revenge on the tattletales by devouring them.


Ancient Egypt

The egyptian word for eclipse is ‘Akhet’

King Akhenaten (1356-1338 BC) built his capital according

to the totality path of the solar eclipse of 08/15/-1351.

The Pharaoh named his new residence 'Akhet Aten'.

The name of the city means: 'The Eclipse of Aten'.

The name of the Giza Sphinx was 'Hor in the Akhet‘

Many different ancient egyptian sun cults saw eclipses

Differently. Many refer to a serpent eating the Sun God.

Most however refer to a great hawk stealing RA’s glory.


Eclipses and Religion

Many hindus to this day immerse themselves in holy rivers

And lakes during solar eclipses.

Working during eclipses is considered bad luck.

Muslim tradition holds that the prophet Mohammed,

the founder of Islam, prayed for the duration of an eclipse.

Senior muslim clerics issued an edict forbidding people to

look at the Sun directly because it transgresses Islamic law

to harm oneself.

Druids believe eclipse represents man and woman together.


Eclipses and Religion

Luke 23:44-48 “And it was about the sixth hour, and there

was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple

was rent in the midst.”

Some suggest a solar eclipse as an explaination for

The ‘darkness’ however the facts don’t lend credance.


Mechanics of Solar Eclipses

Solar eclipse of

11 Aug 1999

From MIR



Mechanics of Solar Eclipses

Todo insert flash file.





Total Eclipse

Although a total eclipse refers to a specific event, the events leading

Up to ‘totality’ and following it also hold much interest.

  • Partial Phase
  • Shadows
  • Bailys Beads
  • Diamond Ring
  • Totality

Partial Phase

During the partial phase there are many interesting things to note.

  • First Contact.
  • Eclipse increasing in magnitude.
  • Temperature.
  • Increasing Darkness
  • Shadow Bands
  • Crescent Shadows
  • Creatures settling believing night is imminent
  • Moons shadow racing from the west(ish).
  • Bailys Beads
  • Diamond Ring

First Contact.

The moment when the western limb of the Moon contacts the

Eastern limb of the Sun.

First contact is not directly

Visible, however very shortly

Afterwards a little ‘bite’ is

Taken from the Sun.



As the eclipse increases in magnitude, the amount of warming

Sunlight reaching us falls.

As the eclipse reaches 70-80% you will begin to feel a noticeable

Coolness as if night were coming.


Increasing Darkness

With the decrease in the area of Sun presented to us

Ambient light levels fall.

Most noticeable in the latter stages of the eclipse.

Video from west Africa showing this dramatically.


Shadow Bands

Caused by distortions in the Earth’s atmosphere and the partially

Eclipsed Sun.

Best seen on a pale coloured

Wall or concrete pavement.


Crescent Shadows

Note shadows cast by irregularly shaped objects such as leaves

From trees.


Bailys Beads.

At this point the only sunlight reaching us is through the undulating

Valleys on the Moons limb.


Diamond Ring

The chromosphere is visible and the ‘Corona’ is becoming visible.

The very last of ‘Bailys Beads’ is also visible.

Totality is now imminent!!!!!!


The Hybrid Eclipse.

The official explaination!

“A hybrid eclipse is a unique type of central eclipse where parts

of the path are annular while other parts are total.

This duality comes about when the vertex of the Moon's umbral

shadow pierces Earth's surface at some points, but falls short

of the planet along other portions of the eclipse path.

The curvature of Earth's surface brings some geographic locations

along the path into the umbra while other positions are more distant

and enter the antumbral rather than umbral shadow.”

Fred Espenak






Eclipse Safety

Directly looking at the Sun,

even for a short time,




Eclipse Safety

Approved solar filter material

Should be used to cover your

Equipment and your eyes




  • You should choose sunglasses that:
  • reduce glare
  • filter out 99-100% of UV rays
  • protect your eyes
  • are comfortable to wear
  • do not distort colors.

Source: Prevent Blindness America.


Eclipse of March 29th 2006


We will use computer simulations to look at this

Eclipse from different vantage points

Animations created with Starry Night Pro Plus