Eclipse: The Celestial Phenomenon That Changed the Course of History by Duncan Steel, With a foreword by Paul Davies, Paul Davies |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Eclipse: The Celestial Phenomenon That Changed the Course of History

Eclipse: The Celestial Phenomenon That Changed the Course of History

by Duncan Steel, With a foreword by Paul Davies, Paul Davies
     
 

Whether interpreted as an auspicious omen or a sentinel of doom, eclipses have had a profound effect upon our cultural development. Throughout recorded history, they have evoked consternation, fear, and dread—as well as awe and wonderment.

Ancient peoples were clearly disconcerted by them. The Romans marked pivotal battles with the Greeks by references to an

Overview

Whether interpreted as an auspicious omen or a sentinel of doom, eclipses have had a profound effect upon our cultural development. Throughout recorded history, they have evoked consternation, fear, and dread—as well as awe and wonderment.

Ancient peoples were clearly disconcerted by them. The Romans marked pivotal battles with the Greeks by references to an eclipse. The date of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ has been derived by using biblical mentions of an eclipse. Perhaps most famously, Christopher Columbus extorted much-needed foodstuffs from some increasingly unfriendly native hosts by purporting to demonstrate the wrath of his most powerful God when he accurately predicted a lunar eclipse.

The pattern that eclipses follow—a cycle, called the saros—was actually calculated thousands of years ago. However, it is only with the help of modern computers that we have been able to analyze and appreciate the data. Eclipses provide unique opportunities for today's scientists to study such contrasting phenomena as the upper layers of the sun, the slowdown of our planet's spin rate, and the effects of celestial events on human psychology.

In Eclipse, Duncan Steel expertly captures our continuing fascination with all manner of eclipses—including the familiar solar and lunar varieties and other kinds involving stars, planets, asteroids, and comets as well as distant galaxies and quasars. Steel helps us see that, in astronomical terms, eclipses are really rather straightforward affairs. Moving beyond the mysticism and the magic, the science of eclipses is revealed.

Editorial Reviews

New Scientist
"...enthralling ... gripping ... an excellent overview of the history and astronomy of the phenomenon."
Leif J. Robinson
"No one should end their life's journey without experiencing a total eclipse of the Sun, nature's most beautiful yet fearsome gift. Many other bodies in the universe--from tiny minor planets to giant clusters of galaxies--also eclipse and are eclipsed. These rare happenings have a rich history, human as well as scientific, here nicely compiled by a gifted astronomer and science writer."
Editor Emeritus, Sky & Telescope
Brian G. Marsden
"While nature has many impressive sights to offer, a total eclipse of the sun must come at the very top of the list. Duncan Steel's book is an excellent introduction, with lots of relevant details and numerous interesting historical asides, on the general phenomenon of ECLIPSE."
Associate Director for Planetary Sciences, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Science Books and Film
....a very comprehensive look at the mysterious phenomena known as eclipses. The volume includes numerous detailed, interesting accounts of eclipses throughout history. ...Overall, this is a good book...
Mercury
...fascinating stories of history and science...
Booklist
"Steel's comepndium ranges from entertaining information about eclipses to the scientific significance of the vast amount of technical information astronomers have teased out of these events. ... Generously illustrated, Steel's informative discourse also promises staying power by ending with a guide to the next two decades of solar eclipses. ... Advanced astronomy students will enjoy this in-depth exploration."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780309074384
Publisher:
National Academies Press
Publication date:
10/09/2001
Pages:
492
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.70(d)

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