Both the popular and technical literature contain many references to solar eclipses of the past. Some of these references are from ancient texts. In other cases, they are attempts to tie an eclipse with a historical event. The purpose of this web page is to present eclipse calculations for many such eclipses mentioned in the literature.
The inclusion of an historical event in the tables below does not imply validation of the historical event nor its connection with an eclipse. Some events may be either apocryphal or fictional, or an eclipse may be incorrectly associated with a particular event. The eclipse maps and calculations are simply presented so that they may be compared with references in the literature. It is left to the reader to evaluate whether the eclipse association is valid or not.
The following two tables list solar eclipses identified with some historical event of note. When selected, each Calendar Date links to a global map of Earth showing the region of visibility for that eclipse. The path of the Moon's penumbral shadow covers the region of partial eclipse, while the track of the umbral shadow defines the path of total or annular eclipse. These figures are described in greater detail in the Key to Solar Eclipse Maps. Each figure is stored as a PDF file.
The column labeled Eclipse Type links to a dynamic Google map with the eclipse path plotted on it. You can scroll and zoom in to any part of the eclipse path. If you click on a location, an marker will be plotted that gives the eclipse circumstances at that position. Markers can be dragged around with the mouse and the eclipse circumstances are automatically updated.
The column labeled Central Duration gives the greatest duration of the eclipse. It links to a table of eclipse path coordinates that permit the plotting the track on higher detail maps.
The last column gives the historical reference for each eclipse. Additional sources and/or literary references to many of these eclipses may be found at:
The references at the bottom of this page provide additional information on solar eclipses of historical interest. Visit Solar Eclipses for Beginners for a basic primer on eclipses of the Sun. A complementary web page Lunar Eclipses of Historical Interest is also available.
This web site is a work in progress. If you know of an historic eclipse of interest, please email the date and a little information or reference about the event to email@example.com. I will generate a map for the eclipse and add it to this page.
|Solar Eclipses: 2000 BCE to 1 BCE|
|(Link to Global Map)||(Link to Google Map)||(Link to Path Table)|
|-2136 Oct 22
|Annular||9||0.974||02m52s||Ho and Hi, the Drunk Astronomers Note|
|-1374 May 03
"On the day of the new moon, in the month of Hiyar, the Sun was put to shame, and went down in the daytime, with Mars in attendance."
- Early Mesopotamian Records
|-1301 Jun 05
|Total||26||1.080||06m25s||Early Chinese Eclipse
"Three flames ate the sun, and big stars were seen."
- Chinese writings of the Shang Dynasty
|-1177 Apr 16
". . . and the Sun has perished out of heaven, and an evil mist hovers over all."
- Homer, The Odyssey Wikipedia
|-0898 Apr 21
|Annular||53||0.959||03m04s||China's 'Double-Dawn' Eclipse
"During the first year of the reign of King Yi, in the first month of spring, the sun rose twice at Zheng."
- The Bamboo Annals
|-0762 Jun 15
"Insurrection in the city of Ashur. In the month Sivan, the Sun was eclipsed."
- The Assyrian Chronicles Note Wikipedia
|-0647 Apr 06
|Total||38||1.069||05m02s||Archilochus' Eclipse Note|
|-0584 May 28
|Total||57||1.080||06m04s||Thales Eclipse (Medes vs. Lydians)
from Herodotus, History I Note Wikipedia
|-0556 May 19
|Total||48||1.026||02m22s||The Siege of Larisa
"...A cloud, however, overspread the sun and hid it from sight until the inhabitants abandoned their city; and thus it was taken."
- Xenophon, "Anabasis"
|-0479 Oct 02
"...while he was offering sacrifice to know if he should march out against the Persian, the sun was suddenly darkened in mid sky"
- Herodotus, History, IX, 10 Wikipedia
|-0430 Aug 03
". . . the sun assumed the shape of a crescent and became full again, and during the eclipse some stars became visible."
- Thucydides Note Wikipedia
|-0423 Mar 21
|Annular||42||0.943||04m39s||8th Year of Peloponnesian War
"In first days of the next summer there was an eclipse of the sun at the time of new moon, and in the early part of the same month an earthquake."
- The History of the Peloponnesian War Wikipedia
|Solar Eclipses: 1 CE to 2000 CE|
|(Link to Global Map)||(Link to Google Map)||(Link to Path Table)|
|0029 Nov 24||Total||62||1.022||01m59s||Crucifixion of Christ? See References Wikipedia|
|0033 Mar 19||Total||59||1.058||04m06s||Crucifixion of Christ? See References Wikipedia|
|0059 Apr 30||Total||68||1.019||01m50s||Plinius' Eclipse
"Then the sun was suddenly darkened and the fourteen districts of the city were struck by lightning"
- The Annals
|0071 Mar 20||Hybrid||79||1.007||00m35s||Plutarch's Eclipse Note Wikipedia|
|0334 Jul 17||Annular||80||0.976||02m23s||Firmicus's Eclipse Note|
|0346 Jun 06||Total||91||1.059||03m58s||-|
|0418 Jul 19||Total||91||1.046||03m52s||Comet During an Eclipse Note|
|0569 Nov 24||Total||90||1.036||03m17s||Eclipse Preceding Birth of Mohammad Wikipedia|
|0632 Jan 27||Annular||99||0.984||01m40s||Death of Mohammad's Son Ibrahim
"When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred, and rumours of God's personal condolence quickly arose."
- Prayers of Muhammad Wikipedia
|0671 Dec 07||Annular||101||0.924||10m18s||-|
|0840 May 05||Total||90||1.076||05m46s||Emperor Louis' Eclipse (Treaty of Verdun)
"In the third year of the Indiction, the Sun was hidden from this world and stars appeared in the sky as if it were midnight, on the third day before the Nones of May (May 5) during the Litanies of Our Lord"
- Andreas Bergomatis Chronicon Wikipedia
|0968 Dec 22||Total||115||1.030||02m28s||First Clear Corona Description Note|
|1133 Aug 02||Total||102||1.065||04m38s||King Henry's Eclipse Note Wikipedia|
|1230 May 14||Total||96||1.060||03m17s||Major European Eclipse Note|
|1337 Mar 03||Annular||119||0.954||04m32s||Jean de Murs Eclipse Note|
|1605 Oct 12||Total||137||1.034||02m43s||Scientific Comment on Corona Note|
|1715 May 03||Total||114||1.063||04m14s||Edmund Halley's Eclipse
"A few seconds before the sun was all hid, there discovered itself round the moon a luminous ring about a digit, or perhaps a tenth part of the moon's diameter, in breadth"
- Edmund Halley Note Wikipedia
|1724 May 22||Total||133||1.064||04m33s||Corona Is Part of Sun Note|
|1733 May 13||Total||114||1.066||04m06s||Prominences Seen with Unaided Eye Note|
|1766 Aug 05||Annular||122||0.943||05m15s||Captain Cook's Eclipse Wikipedia|
|1806 Jun 16||Total||124||1.060||04m55s||Tecumseh's Eclipse Eclipse-Chasers Article Note Wikipedia|
|1831 Feb 12||Annular||118||0.981||01m57s||Nat Turner's Eclipse Wikipedia|
|1836 May 15||Annular||135||0.951||04m47s||Baily's Beads Note|
|1842 Jul 08||Total||124||1.054||04m05s||Corona and Prominences part of Sun's Atmosphere Note|
|1851 Jul 28||Total||143||1.058||03m41s||First Eclipse Expedition Note|
|1860 Jul 18||Total||124||1.050||03m39s||First Wet Plate Eclipse Photograph Note|
|1868 Aug 18||Total||133||1.076||06m47s||King of Siam's Eclipse Article Note Wikipedia|
|1869 Aug 07||Total||143||1.055||03m48s||New element in Sun's Corona? Note|
|1870 Dec 22||Total||120||1.025||02m11s||Janssen Escape Eclipse Note|
|1871 Dec 12||Total||130||1.047||04m23s||Corona Hot Gas and Cooler Particles Note|
|1878 Jul 29||Total||124||1.045||03m11s||Pike's Peak Eclipse Note Wikipedia|
|1879 Jan 22||Annular||129||0.970||03m03s||Zulu War Eclipse Wikipedia|
|1887 Aug 19||Total||143||1.052||03m50s||Eclipse from 11,500 feet Note|
|1912 Apr 17||Hybrid||137||1.000||00m02s||The 'Titanic' Eclipse|
|1919 May 29||Total||136||1.072||06m51s||Einstein's Eclipse (Test of General Relativity)
Note Eclipse that Changed the Universe Wikipedia
|1922 Sep 21||Total||133||1.068||05m59s||General Relativity Reconfirmation Note|
|1925 Jan 24||Total||120||1.030||02m32s||NYC's Winter Morning Eclipse New York Times|
|1932 Aug 31||Total||124||1.026||01m45s||Great Maine Eclipse of 1932 Note|
|1963 Jul 20||Total||145||1.022||01m40s||Great Maine Eclipse of 1963|
|1970 Mar 07||Total||139||1.041||03m28s||1970 Total Eclipse through eastern USA|
|1973 Jun 30||Total||136||1.079||07m04s||SST Used to extend Totality 10x Note|
|1979 Feb 26||Total||120||1.039||02m49s||1979 Total Eclipse through northwestern USA|
|1991 Jul 11||Total||136||1.080||06m53s||Great 1991 Eclipse through Hawaii and Mexico|
|2017 Aug 21||Total||145||1.031||02m40s||Next Total Eclipse through central USA|
|2024 Apr 08||Total||139||1.057||04m28s||Upcoming Total Eclipse through USA|
 Eclipse magnitude is the fraction of the Sun's diameter obscured by the Moon. For annular eclipses, the eclipse magnitude is always less than 1. For total eclipses, the eclipse magnitude is always greater than or equal to 1. For both annular and total eclipses, the value listed is actually the ratio of diameters between the Moon and the Sun.
 Central Duration is the duration of a total or annular eclipse at Greatest Eclipse. Greatest Eclipse is the instant when the axis of the Moon's shadow passes closest to Earth's center.
-2136 Oct 22 - Ho and Hi, the Drunk Astronomers
-0762 Jun 15 - Assyrian Eclipse
-0647 April 06 - Archilochus' Eclipse
-0584 May 28 - Herodotus/Thales Eclipse
-0430 Aug 03 - Peloponnesian War
0071 Mar 20 - Plutarch's Eclipse
0334 July 17 - Firmicus's Eclipse
0418 Jul 19 - Comet During an Eclipse
0968 Dec 22 - First Clear Corona Description
1133 Aug 02 - King Henry's Eclipse
1230 May 14 - Major European Eclipse
1337 Mar 03 - Jean de Murs Eclipse
1724 May 22 - Corona Part of Sun
1733 May 13 - Prominences Seen with Unaided Eye
1715 May 03 - Edmund Halley's Eclipse
1806 Jun 16 - Tecumseh's Eclipse
1836 May 15 - Baily's Beads
1842 Jul 8 - Corona and Prominences part of Sun's Atmosphere
1851 Jul 28 - First Eclipse Expedition
1860 Jul 18 - First Wet Plate Eclipse Photograph
1868 Aug 18 - King of Siam's Eclipse
1869 Aug 07 - New element in Sun's Corona?
1870 Dec 22 - Janssen Escape Eclipse
1871 Dec 12 - Corona Hot Gas and Cooler Particles
1878 Jul 29 - Pike's Peak Eclipse
1887 Aug 19 - Eclipse from 11,500 feet
1919 May 29 - Einstein's Eclipse (Test of General Relativity)
1919 May 29 - General Relativity Reconfirmation
1932 Aug 31 - Great Maine Eclipse
1973 Jun 30 - SST Used to Extend Totality 10x
Brewer, B., Eclipse, Earth View, Seattle, 1991.
Harris, Joel K., and Talcott, Richard L. Chasing the Shadow, Kalmbach Publishing Co, 1994.
Humphreys, Colin J. and Waddington, W. G., "Dating the Crucifixion", Nature, Vol. 306, No. 5945, p.743-746, 22 December 1983.
Littmann, M., Espenak, F., and Willcox, K. Totality - Eclipses of the Sun (3rd Ed.), Oxford University Press, New York, 2008.
Schaefer, Bradley E., "Solar Eclipses That Changed the World", Sky and Telescope, May, 1994, p.36-39.
Schaefer, Bradley E., "Lunar Eclipses That Changed the World", Sky and Telescope, December, 1992, p.639-642.
Schaefer, Bradley E., "Dating the Crucifixion", Sky and Telescope, April, 1989, p.374.
Schaefer, Bradley E., "Lunar Visibility and the Crucifixion", Q. J. R. Astr. Soc., 1990, 31, p.53-67.
Steel, Duncan, Eclipse: The Celestial Phenomenon That Changed the Course of History (Washington, D.C.: The Joseph Henry Press, 2001)
Walters, Alice N., "Ephemeral Events: English Broadsides of Early Eighteenth-Century Solar Eclipses," Hist. Sci. 37 (1999)
The coordinates of the Sun used in these predictions are based on the VSOP87 theory [Bretagnon and Francou, 1988]. The Moon's coordinates are based on the ELP-2000/82 theory [Chapront-Touze and Chapront, 1983]. For more information, see: Solar and Lunar Ephemerides. The revised value used for the Moon's secular acceleration is n-dot = -25.858 arc-sec/cy*cy, as deduced from the Apollo lunar laser ranging experiment (Chapront, Chapront-Touze, and Francou, 2002).
The largest uncertainty in the eclipse predictions is caused by fluctuations in Earth's rotation due primarily to tidal friction of the Moon. The resultant drift in apparent clock time is expressed as ΔT and is determined as follows:
A series of polynomial expressions have been derived to simplify the evaluation of ΔT for any time from -1999 to +3000. The uncertainty in ΔT over this period can be estimated from scatter in the measurements.
The data presented here are based on predictions published in:
Special thanks to National Space Club summer intern Wesley Ripley for his assistance in updating and expanding this web page (July 2008).
Permission is freely granted to reproduce this data when accompanied by an acknowledgment:
"Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC"