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Historical Eclipses and Earth's Rotation


  • Date Published: March 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521056335

£ 54.99

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About the Authors
  • This book is intended for geophysicists, astronomers (especially those with an interest in history), historians and orientalists. The culmination of many years of research, it discusses, in depth, ancient and medieval eclipse observations and their importance in studying Earth's past rotation. This was the first major book on this subject to appear in the last twenty years. The author has specialised in the interpretation of early astronomical records and their application to problems in modern astronomy for many years. The book contains an in-depth discussion of numerous eclipse records from Babylon, China, Europe and the Arab lands. Translations of almost every record studied are given. It is shown 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 non-tidal changes in opposition to the main trend.

    • Was the first extensive study in book form of variations in the length of the day in the historical past
    • Were the first published translations of many eclipse records from Babylon and China
    • Was the first systematic attempt to compare numerous recorded eclipses in history with modern computation
    • Stephenson is the world class guru on this topic
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'It will certainly replace earlier books as the standard text in this long-established field.' The Observatory

    'In this book the sources are comprehensively and lucidly discussed. For serious geophysicists the book is necessary reading. For the rest of us the sheer breadth and depth of research into ancient sources for practical modern purposes must surely be an inspiration.' Clockmakers's Times

    'The comprehensive nature of the work makes it an excellent reference.' D. E. Hogg, Choice

    '[The author] is to be commended for this work of careful synthesis'. Henry Innes MacAdam, IBS

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521056335
    • length: 576 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 170 x 30 mm
    • weight: 0.91kg
    • contains: 111 b/w illus. 62 tables
    • availability: Available
  • 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

  • Author

    F. Richard Stephenson, University of Durham

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