Solar Eclipses of Historical Interest

Fred Espenak

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The last column gives the historical reference for each eclipse.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:

Ancient and Early Medieval Eclipses in European Sources

Eclipse Quotations

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 I will generate a map for the eclipse and add it to this page.

Solar Eclipses: 2000 BCE to 1 BCE[3]
Calender DateEclipse
(Link to Global Map) (Link to Google Map) (Link to Path Table)
-2136 Oct 22
(2137 BCE)
Annular 9 0.974 02m52s Ho and Hi, the Drunk Astronomers Note
-1374 May 03
(1375 BCE)
Total 16 1.029 02m07s Ugarit Eclipse
"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
(1302 BCE)
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
(1178 BCE)
Total 39 1.060 04m33s Odyssey Eclipse
". . . and the Sun has perished out of heaven, and an evil mist hovers over all."
- Homer, The Odyssey Wikipedia
-0898 Apr 21
(899 BCE)
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
(763 BCE)
Total 44 1.060 05m00s Assyrian Eclipse
"Insurrection in the city of Ashur. In the month Sivan, the Sun was eclipsed."
- The Assyrian Chronicles Note Wikipedia
-0647 Apr 06
(648 BCE)
Total 38 1.069 05m02s Archilochus' Eclipse Note
-0584 May 28
(585 BCE)
Total 57 1.080 06m04s Thales Eclipse (Medes vs. Lydians)
from Herodotus, History I Note Wikipedia
-0556 May 19
(557 BCE)
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
(480 BCE)
Annular 65 0.932 07m57s Xerxes' Eclipse
"...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
(431 BCE)
Annular 48 0.984 01m04s Peloponnesian War
". . . 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
(424 BCE)
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[3]
Calender DateEclipse
(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


[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] BCE and CE are abbreviations for "Before Common Era" and "Common Era," respectively. They are the secular equivalents to the BC and AD dating conventions. (See: Year Dating Conventions)


-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

References for Solar Eclipses of Historical Interest

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:

  1. pre-1950's: ΔT calculated from empirical fits to historical records derived by Morrison and Stephenson (2004)
  2. 1955-present: ΔT obtained from published observations
  3. future: ΔT is extrapolated from current values weighted by the long term trend from tidal effects

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:

Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000 (NASA TP-2006-214141)
Five Millennium Catalog of Solar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000 (NASA TP-2009-214174)

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"

Return to: NASA Solar Eclipse Page

2009 Sep 28