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13 Outrageous Historical Facts & Crazy Reactions To Eclipses

Have you ever viewed an eclipse? Did you take care and use your special glasses? Eclipses have been with us for centuries and were often viewed with suspicion and shock and fear. Here are some reports of some crazy reactions to eclipses over the years.

Murderous Dealings

Eclipse stages.
Image credit Axel Redder via Shutterstock.

In 1878, a man named Ephraim Miller believed a total solar eclipse marked the coming of the apocalypse. Rather than witness the horrors to come, he murdered his own son with an axe and then took his own life.

Blame The Demon

solar eclipse.
solar eclipse. Image credit IgorZh via Shutterstock.

According to Hindu texts like the Mahabharata, eclipses are caused by the demon Rahu periodically swallowing the sun and moon.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

ancient Babylonian.
Image credit Andrea Izzotti via Shutterstock.

Ancient Babylonians would put a commoner on the throne during an eclipse so that if any “dark doings” befell the king, they would fall on the commoner instead. After the eclipse, the temporary king was rewarded for his service by being killed.

We Can’t Figure Out This Connection

mouse.
Image credit Eric Isselee via Shutterstock.

Some ancient cultures believed that during an eclipse, children would turn into mice.

Darkness = Peace?

Phases of eclipse.
Image credit Allexxandar via Shutterstock.

In the 6th century B.C., a battle between the Medes and Lydians came to a halt during a total solar eclipse, which the soldiers took as a sign from the gods to make peace and end 15 years of fighting.

Do Your Job, Or Else

ancient Chinese astrological dial.
Image credit Michel Stevelmans via Shutterstock.

The earliest recorded solar eclipse is from ancient China in 2137 BC, mentioned in the Shujing text. It refers to the “Sun and Moon not meeting harmoniously” and is linked to the possible execution of two royal astrologers for failing to predict it.

It Happens In Minutes

solar eclipse diagram.
Image credit Andramin via Shutterstock.

Ancient Babylonian records from 763 BC mention a total solar eclipse lasting 5 minutes that occurred during an insurrection in the city of Ashur (modern-day Iraq).

Thank Goodness for Poet Archilochus

man pointing at solar eclipse.
Image credit Mike_shots via Shutterstock.

Another eclipse in 648 BC over ancient Greece is recorded by Archilochus, a poet from the Greek island of Paros.

Eclipse Predicts Famous Prophet

watching solar eclipse with glasses.
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The Koran mentions a solar eclipse preceding the birth of Prophet Muhammad in 569 AD, which historians link to an eclipse lasting over 3 minutes.

Do You Mind Eating In The Dark?

Group eating outdoors at night.
Image credit Gorodenkoff via Shutterstock.

An eclipse in 840 AD so unnerved a Roman emperor that he stopped eating, plunging his realm into civil war according to accounts.

Darkness Has Historically Been Feared

Eclipse at Stonehenge.
Image credit muratart via Shutterstock.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recounts the total solar eclipse of 1133 AD that occurred after the death of King Henry I of England, with the “hideous darkness” agitating people.

Go, Sir Arthur!

solar eclipse over water.
Image credit IgorZh via Shutterstock.

The total solar eclipse of 1919 allowed Sir Arthur Eddington to photograph stars near the Sun, providing evidence supporting Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

The 2024 Eclipse Path

2024 eclipse path.
Image credit Peter Hermes Furian via Shutterstock.

These examples showcase how eclipses were historically viewed with a mix of scientific curiosity, religious significance, and sometimes fear before their causes were fully understood. Will you, or did you witness the April 2024 eclipse?

Bucket List Item: Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary

Standing-in-awe-at-Warner_Valley-Overlook_creditJoeyHamilton.
Image credit DarkSky.org

Hopefully all of you have had the experience of gazing into the night sky in dark surroundings, so that you could take advantage of the stars, planets and cosmos. Unfortunately, manmade lights often interfere – it is called light pollution for a reason – but did you know that the U.S. can now claim the largest international dark sky sanctuary? You will have to travel to Oregon to take advantage, but it is worth the trip. Read: Bucket List Item: Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary

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Authors

  • Dede Wilson

    Dédé Wilson is a journalist with over 17 cookbooks to her name and is the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners LLC, currently publishing through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone.

  • Robin Jaffin

    As the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners, LLC through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone she has played a pivotal role in promoting dietary solutions for individuals with specific needs in the health and wellness industry as well as amplify the voices and experiences of women worldwide.

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