Ancient solar eclipse records reveal changes in Earth's rotation - Space.com

Ancient solar eclipse records reveal changes in Earth's rotation - Space.com

Ancient solar eclipse records reveal changes in Earth's rotation - Space.com
Oct 01, 2022 1 min, 4 secs

Researchers looked through historical documents dating back to the fourth century to find total solar eclipses.

Records of eclipses observed around 1,500 years ago have revealed the history of Earth's rotation and how our planet's movement has changed through recent human history.

Researchers searched through records from the Byzantine Empire  — the eastern half of the Roman Empire that continued on after the fall of the Western Roman Empire — from  the fourth to seventh centuries A.D.

— and identified five total solar eclipses seen around the Eastern Mediterranean, pinpointing their probable times and locations.

Previously, solar eclipse accounts from this time were sparse. .

Because eclipses can provide information about our planet's movement, records like these can be important tools for understanding the variability of Earth's rotation throughout history.

"In addition to reliable location and timing information, we needed confirmation of eclipse totality — daytime darkness to the extent that stars appeared in the sky.".

The new findings provide details about the difference between time measured according to Earth's rotation and time independent of Earth's rotation — a value called delta T — that represent the length of an Earth day. .

The site of this solar eclipse observation was Constantinople, then the capital of the Roman Empire and now Istanbul in modern-day Turkey.

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