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THE CATALOG OF THE HISTORICAL OBSERVATIONS OF SOLAR ECLIPSES

FOR EUROPE AND THE NEAR EAST

by Marek Zawilski

ver.7.0 (April 2021)

This version No. 7.0 of the catalog is the revised and supplemented version No. 6.3.
Several observations have been added and some mistakes of the previous version have been corrected.
First of all, the selected observations made in telescopic times were included.

If you know any interesting historical observation of the solar eclipse not mentioned in the catalog,
please inform the author – your information will be used in the next edition !
 

NO REPRODUCTION OF ANY PART OF THIS MANUSCRIPT MAY TAKE PLACE WITHOUT THE AGREEMENT OF THE AUTHOR.

 

CONTENTS

PREFACE ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….4
THE CATALOG SYSTEM …………………………………………………………………………………………….5
THE CATALOG OF THE HISTORICAL OBSERVATIONS
OF THE SOLAR ECLIPSES FOR EUROPE AND THE NEAR EAST …………………………………7
THE ISLAMIC OBSERVATIONS OF SOLAR ECLIPSES 829-1004 …………………………………40
THE OBSERVATIONS MADE IN WEST EUROPE
IN THE XIVth TILL XVIIth CENTURY……………………………………………………………………………30
THE POLISH OBSERVATIONS OF THE XVIth CENTURY …………………………………………….34
THE STATEMENT OF THE COORDINATES OF THE OBSERVATION PLACES…………….47
BIBLIOGRAPHY ………………………………………………………………………………..…….52
OBSERVATIONS OF GREAT SOLAR ECLIPSES IN THE TELESCOPIC TIMES IN EUROPE AND THE NEAR EAST……………………..55

MAPS

PREFACE

The catalog represents the effects of the author’s several years’ work devoted to gathering information about historical observations of solar eclipses. The present collection is concerned with the region of Europe and the Near East. Literature on this subject includes many works relating to observations of solar eclipses but the author has not found any synthetic study which would present a list of all interesting phenomena. Moreover, many of the stated observations have not been quoted in any known literature items.

The catalog presents a chronological list of eclipses for which it was possible to find such historical documents the analysis of which has allowed to establish or to evaluate the phase of the eclipse in a given place. Thus, the catalog contains data for the following of eclipses :

  • total, when the source text states it beyond reasonable doubt,
  • when there is a supposition that the description may reflect exactly such phenomena, or gives other information which allows to arrive at a conclusion as to the phase of the eclipse, e.g. visibility of stars, appearance of unusual darkness, accompanying phenomena (reactions of people and animals, remarking the solar corona and protuberances),
  • partial, when this word is used in relation to the description of a phase,
  • partial, for which the moments of contacts and/or max. phase have been timed,
  • partial, described as the appearance of a solar crescent,
  • partial near the horizon,
  • partial, in regions near the path of totality, described as the appearance of a disctinct weakening of light.

Generally speaking, partial eclipses were quoted in the cases when the path of centrality was running through the countries of Europe and the Near East.

However, partial eclipses near the horizon and those with the timed contacts and maximal phase are included. On account of this, the catalog does not include all reports which relate to partial eclipses. Of course, a large number of laconic reports which do not meet the above stated criteria have not been included, either.

The term “Near East” has been treated arbitrarily – it should be understood more broadly as encompassing the countries of North Africa and West Asia. Sometimes the data on eclipses goes beyond this area, e.g. in the case of some eclipses from the end of the 19th century, data from the areas of Siberia and South Asia were provided to ensure the continuity of data on the specific observed eclipse.

“The Collection of the Historical Descriptions of Solar Eclipses” containing source texts in their original language and in English, form an independent computer set of texts not included in the catalog. This collection is brought to the end of the 18th century. A complete interpretation of the descriptions must be supported by the analysis of source texts. “The Collection … “ also contains the list ofreferences on the subject.

The major part of the catalog has been prepared on the grounds of chronicle sources, while informations supplied by astronomers were rather rare.

Three sets of astronomical observations have been distinguished and enclosed at the end of this part of the catalog. The are :

  • a collection of Islamic observations from the years 829-1004,
  • a collection of observations made in West Europe in the XIVth till XVIIth century before the aid of telescopes,
  • a collection of the Polish observations from the XVth century (mainly Nicolaus Copernicus’ observations).

The invention of the telescope radically influenced astronomical observations. The number of solar eclipse observations has also increased significantly. Therefore, the set of solar observations for the telescopic period was separated and presented in a more detailed format. For this period, no separate set of source texts was prepared, which would be too extensive, replacing this information with data that would allow access to literature sources (most of which are available on the Internet).

This period dates back to 1914, when agreat solar eclipse of August 21 happened three weeks after the outbreak of World War I.

As the supplement, the collection of maps containing paths of centrality and observation places marked, has been added at the end of the catalog.

THE CATALOG SYSTEM

The basic part of the catalog includes solar eclipses data according to a chronological system, beginning with the earliest about which a recorded information has been found (the so called Ugarit eclipse), and ending with the last European total eclipse of the pre-telescopic era, in 1605.

Some others observations made by astronomers from 1605 till 1614 have been added, too. The first solar eclipse observed with the aid of telescopes was that of 21 May 1621. Beginning from the version 5.0, the selected observations made in telescopic times were included into the catalog.

The list states the following data for each of the eclipses :

  • the date of the eclipse according to the Gregorian calendar,
  • the place of observation

Other information is given depending on its availability :

  • the name of observer
  • Timed – the original stating of the time of the eclipse :

hd – hour of the day
CNTCS – timing of the contacts performed
SR – at sunrise
ASR – after sunrise
ASS – after sunset
BSS – before sunset
N – about noon
M – in the morning
FN – in the forenoon
AN – in the afternoon
BM – before midday
h AM/PM – hours anti/post meridiem

The next column state, among others, the sign    which indicates that the source text records the information on a given subjects in an unquestionable way.
If there is some doubt but the context shows that it is very probable, the letter “C” is put – concluded.

Other signs are listed below :

T – total eclipse (C-concluded from the text)
A – annular eclipse
Dis – disappearance of the Sun
P – partial eclipse – if more detailed data concerning the  magnitude of the phase, they are designated by the following symbols :

CR – the Sun like the crescent Moon

CR number – number means the adequate age of the crescent Moon

fraction A – the eclipsed part of the solar disk area
fraction D – the eclipsed part of the solar disk diameter
number d – the phase in digits (12 digits = diameter of the Sun = total eclipse)

NT – nearly total eclipse
GP – greatest part of the Sun eclipsed
LP – less part of the Sun eclipsed
B – beginning remarked,
M – maximum phase estimated
E – end remarked
PH – phases  of  the  eclipse  described;  these  descriptions  were sometimes very scanty;
G – „a great eclipse occurred”;
GD – great darkness;  the  term  also  covers  such expressions as a sudden darkening of the sky and turning  the day into night ;
TW – twilight effect : distinct darkening of the  sky  and  the  earth reminding of twilight or a cloudy day;
SV – stars visible; this  term  has  been  overused  and  occurred  as  a necessary term when describing a solar eclipse;
V – Venus remarked; Venus was remarked even during partial eclipses and this gives basics for estimation of the phase;
WD – weather described; any information of meteorological character;

For the West-European and Polish observations the separate notation was used.

In the current version of the catalogue, the maps of centrality have been included on the map of Europe. The paths of centrality have resulted from the calculations made with the help of the Occult v.4.6.5 programme. The data about the visiblity of eclipses at the chosen sites in Europe (calculated by this programme) have been also included.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The author wishes to express his thank to the persons whose help was especially important in preparing this publication :

  • Prof. Jerzy Dobrzycki, Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
  • Dr. Jean-Michel Faidit, Planetarium Montpellier, France
  • Dr. Mikhail L.Gorodetsky, Moscow State University,Russia
  • Dr. Hermann König, Mathematisches Seminar der Universität Kiel, Germany
  • Carles Schnabel, Agrupación Astronomica de Sabadell, Spain
  • Prof. Frank R. Stephenson, University of Durham, United Kingdom,
  • Prof. Leslie V. Morrison, Pevensey, East Sussex, UK; formerly Royal Greenwich Observatory, UK

przykład tabeli:

Date Place Observer Timed T A Dis P PH GD TW SV WD Source
16 1415 VI 7 Praha Vavřinec z Březove 11 h ASS * * Laurentius de Brezina: de gestis et variis...