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Eclipse: The Celestial Phenomenon Which Has Changed the Course of History [Hardcover]

Duncan G. Steel , Paul Davies

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Book Description

8 July 1999
Ever since biblical times, eclipses have caused a sensation. Ancient civilizations saw them as signs of divine displeasure or augurs of good fortune. This work explains eclipses, their science and their significance to humankind.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Book Publishing; First Printing edition (8 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747273855
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747273851
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 13.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,726,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Duncan Steel's handsomely produced pocket hardback, illustrated throughout by evocative engravings, illustrations and early photographs, harks back to an era when astronomy was a popular pursuit, and not yet the preserve of computer-laden university departments. It is, essentially, a book of celestial mechanics, using the solar eclipse of August 1999 as a peg from which to hang any number of fascinating astronomical stories: how archaeologists and historians use eclipses to calibrate local calendars; how eclipse cycles can be mapped as woven patterns, revealing their regularity, so that, long before the necessary physical theories were developed, "various individuals of genius, living in societies possessing careful records of past celestial events, were able to interpret those records and deduce the lengths of the years and months to a matter of minutes and seconds"; finally, how findings from eclipses and the occultations of stars by the moon and planets revealed much about the nature of both. There is much of historical, as well as astronomical significance in Duncan Steel's Eclipse. French astronomer Jules Janssen, for example, in 1870 "was so desperate to get to Algeria to observe an eclipse that he escaped from Paris in a balloon, drifting over the heads of the Prussian troops who had the city under seige". --Simon Ings

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