There is a lot of excitement regarding the solar eclipse which can be viewed over much of Britain later this week. (Friday 20th March)
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun. It may completely obscure the view of the Sun from the Earth (a total eclipse) or only partially (a partial eclipse). This week’s eclipse will block up to 80 per cent of the sun. Manuscript O.2.5 contains diagrams of both solar and lunar eclipses.
Astronomers have, of course, predicted and recorded these events for centuries. Here at the Wren Library we have a number of astrological texts dating from the 1300 and 1400s.
Manuscript O.1.57, a 15th century text, contains a table of solar eclipses. It indicates the total eclipse of June 1433 which could be seen in the Hebrides, the Borders in the East and on the Yorkshire coast.
The late 14th century text bound within Trinity Ms R.15.18 includes tables of eclipses between 1406-1462. The solar eclipses are depicted in red and gold and the lunar eclipses which follow in blue and gold.
Another manuscript, R. 15.21, contains tables of lunar eclipses. The page shown is for the month of March and records eclipses between 1356 and 1461.
If you want more data, visit Nasa’s webpages for a catalogue covering five millennia!