Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation

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The culmination of many years of research, this book discusses ancient and medieval eclipse observations and their importance in studying Earth's past rotation. This is the first major book on this subject in twenty years. The author has specialized for many years in the interpretation of early astronomical records and their application to problems in modern astronomy. The book contains an in-depth discussion of numerous eclipse records from Babylon, China, Europe and the Arab lands. The author provides translations of almost every record studied. He shows that although tides play a dominant long-term role in producing variations in Earth's rate of rotation—causing a gradual increase in the length of the day—there are significant and variable nontidal changes in opposition to the main trend. This book is intended for geophysicists, astronomers (especially those with an interest in history), historians and orientalists.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a prodigious effort of scholarship in which each of more than 400 eclipses is discussed in detail...The comprehensive nature of the work makes it an excellent reference." Choice

"Anyone, or any library, with an interest in the civilizations represented in this important study will wish to own this magnificent book." Jay M. Pasachoff, Isis

"This book is impressive, both at a first glance and under more detailed examination, for it represents a masterly synthesis of scientific and historical research. There is an immense amount of work represented in its pages - both that by many scholars dating back thousands of years to Hipparchus and Ptolemy and that by author F. Richard Stephenson himself; the searching for records fo observations, translation, interpretation, organization, and analysis represent many, many years of work synthesized into a single volume. This is a book that every serious library should have and that eclipse and earth-rotation experts will want to consult." Daniel W. E. Green, Earth Science History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521056335
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2008
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 6.69 (w) x 9.61 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Variations in the length of the day: a historical perspective; 2. Tidal friction and the ephemerides of the Sun and Moon; 3. Pre-telescopic eclipse observations and their analysis; 4. Babylonian and Assyrian records of eclipses; 5. Investigation of Babylonian observations of solar eclipses; 6. Timed Babylonian lunar eclipses; 7. Untimed Babylonian observations of lunar eclipses: horizon phenomena; 8. Chinese and other East Asian observations of large solar eclipses; 9. Other East Asian observations of solar and lunar eclipses; 10. Records of eclipses in ancient European history; 11. Eclipse records from medieval Europe; 12. Solar and lunar eclipses recorded in medieval Arabic chronicles; 13. Observations of solar and lunar eclipses made by medieval Arab astronomers; 14. Determination of changes in the length of the day and geophysical interpretation; Appendix A; Appendix B; References.

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