Fear, focus, and the future. Here, C.M. Humphries writes about whatever.
Rare and fascinating to many, solar eclipses have a way to get people talking. Today, countless news articles encourage us to step outside and watch the eclipse (while wearing protective eye wear, of course). Back in ancient times, solar eclipses either brought discovery or fear. Below you will find a mix of discoveries & myths birthed during solar eclipses.
While science debunked countless solar eclipse myths over time, the intrigue of eclipses also led to many discoveries. For instance, during the 1919 eclipse, Sir Arthur Eddington capitalized on an opportunity to test Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity by taking pictures of stars near the Sun, during totality. By doing so, he showed that gravity could bend light, and thus, gravitational deflection was founded.
A solar eclipse also led to the discovery of helium. As he observed the solar eclipse of 1868, French astronomer Jules Janssen realized the second most ubiquitous element known to mankind.
Many ancient cultures assumed solar eclipses to be the work of demons and beasts. Chinese mythology depicts an evil dragon that lived amongst the stars and appeared only to swallow the sun whole. The ancient Chinese would try to ward off the evil dragon by creating loud noises and commotion. Ancient Vietnamese legends tell a similar tale of a demon frog or toad that also devoured the sun.
This is one myth that still lingers around parts of India today. Hindu mythology interprets the sun as a force of life, and anything that obstructs is surely not a good omen. Solar eclipses inundate the sun and provide light through ominous means. During the time of the eclipses, it is believed harmful bacteria and other agents are elevated, and therefore, any food needs to be avoided or discarded. In parts of India, people will fast to avoid being poisoned.
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.