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How Eclipse Anxiety Helped Lay the Foundation For Modern Astronomy

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In August, a total solar eclipse will traverse Ameica for the first time in nearly a century.

At the same time, eclipse anxiety has also contributed to a deeper scientific understanding of the intricate workings of the universe-and even laid the foundation for modern astronomy.

Even the biblical story of Jesus connects Christ’s birth and death with celestial events: the first by the appearance of a star, the second by a solar eclipse.

Historians debate how exactly each culture developed its own system of eclipse prediction, says Dvorak, but the similarities in their systems suggest that Babylonian knowledge may have contributed to the development of others.

His geometric formulation showed that the beasts actually represent two lunar nodes: positions in the sky in which the paths of sun and moon cross to produce a lunar or solar eclipse.

Eclipse fears aren’t just limited to ancient times.

In 1918, the last time an eclipse swept from coast-to-coast across the United States, an outbreak of influenza killed up to 50 million people worldwide and proved one of the deadliest pandemics in history.

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Article originally posted at www.smithsonianmag.com

Post Author: Carla Parsons

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