Solar eclipses recorded in old Romanian chronicles and notes


Magda Stavinschi, Vasile Mioc, Bucharest, Suzanne Débarbat, Paris


Complete text (abstract only):

Many solar eclipses observed trough history on Romanian territory have been recorded by the witnesses in chronicles and notes. About 100 such records, covering five hundred years (between 1.I.1386 and 6.III.1867), were collected and the respective eclipses were identified.

There are records to be noted for the beautiful description of the phenomenon (6.III.1867). There are also records which prove a remarkable accuracy as regards the moments of the eclipse (5.IX.1793, 19.XI.1816). The importance of the latter for astronomy is obvious.

Many records provide rich details about various characteristic aspects: the evolution of the phenomenon during the partial eclipse (25.VII.1748, 11.II.1804), the apparition of the stars in the sky during the totality phase (17.VI.1433, 12.VIII.1654, 25.VII.1748), sight damage affecting the imprudent spectators (22.VI.1656), the reactions of the spectators: fright, collective panic (23.IX.1699).

Lots of records connect the celestial event with terrestrial calamities, natural (earthquakes, plague, invasions of grasshoppers, floods) or social (wars, kingdom changes). The solar eclipses of 16.III.1485, 12.VIII.1654, 12.V.1706, 28.VII.1851 constitute such examples.

Finally, there are records which prove the astronomical cares of certain scientists of the time. For instance, three eclipses which occurred in 1628 (6.I, 1.VII, 24.XII), all invisible in Romania, were recorded by a Romanian 17th century scientist, Stefan Bachner, on the corresponding pages of a calendar for 1559.

All these records prove that the celestial phenomena benefitted from particular and constant interest from the Romanian people throughout their history.

Bibliographical details:

Magda Stavinschi, Vasile Mioc, Suzanne Débarbat: Solar eclipses recorded in old Romanian chronicles and notes. In: Peter Brosche, Wolfgang R. Dick, Oliver Schwarz, Roland Wielen (Eds.): The Message of the Angles - Astrometry from 1798 to 1998. Proceedings of the International Spring Meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft, Gotha, May 11-15, 1998. (Acta Historica Astronomiae; 3). Thun ; Frankfurt am Main : Deutsch, 1998, p. 243.