Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Sun Goes Dark, the Moon Becomes Blood

The ancients had another, far more dramatic, celestial irregularity to contend with. On rare occasions, the moon would gradually dim and turn a deep red for a time, only to reemerge in its full glory after a short time. On even rarer occasions, daylight would fade as a great shadowy disk stole across the sun

As we saw in the previous section, eclipses were events that could cause great fear, and governments and rulers put tremendous pressure on astronomers (or soothsayers or astrologers or whatever they called their official sky watchers at the time) to come up with dependable ways of predicting when eclipses would occur. Here was yet another set of celestial events that certainly weren’t random, yet, without a complete understanding of how the various parts of the solar system were put together, they were hard to predict accurately.

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