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2024 solar eclipse: Eclipse history

Information about the annular eclipse including how to safely view the event

Past Eclipses

For thousands of years, or more, people around the world have recorded solar eclipses literature and images. The earliest descriptions and predictions of solar events were recorded in stone or clay tablets. Later depictions were drawn or photographed. Technology now helps us understand more about the sun. Watch this Nova program, Babylonians and the Saros Cycle to learn more about ancient astronomy.

Recording and studying the eclipse

 

Nov. 30, 3340 B.C.
"In 1999, Irish Archeoastronomer Paul Griffin investigated the Loughcrew Cairn L Megalithic Monument in Ireland, and discovered that a set of spiral-shaped petroglyphs that might correspond to a solar eclipse which occurred on November 30, 3340 BCE. The symbols display a consistent coding of the sun, moon and horizon, and of the 92 tracks of total solar eclipses, only the one for 3340 BCE visible at this site displayed the same geometric relationships."

March 5th, 1223 B.C. ancient clay tablet describing an eclipse

A clay tablet found in the ancient city of Ugarit, in what is now Syria has a detailed description that allowed researchers to determine the date of the event. Image: Babylonian Solar Eclipse Tablet listing eclipses between 518 and 465 BC). 
Image Credit: NASA Sun Earth Day

 

 

 

 

Petroglyph that could be of a depiction of a solar eclipse. University of Colorado1097? This New Mexico Petroglyph Might Reveal an Ancient Solar Eclipse (Smithsonian Magazine)

"In 1097, a Pueblo artist may have etched a rare celestial event into the rock for all of posterity...Based on calculations of the orbits of the Moon and Earth, Malville notes that a total solar eclipse was visible in the Chaco Canyon area on July 11, 1097, around the height of the area's development. However, this alone didn't prove that the drawing on the petroglyph actually showed a coronal mass ejection. That’s because the chance of both a solar eclipse and a coronal ejection occurring in tandem are slight." Image: University of Colorado.

 

June 16th, 1806 (Tecumseh's Eclipse)

Drawing of the 1806 eclipse by Jose Joaquin de Ferrer. Ferrer was a Spanish Basque astronomer who traveled to document eclipses in Cuba (1803) and New York (1806). His description of the rays that appear around the eclipse as a corona, was adopted by other astronomers and is now commonly used. This eclipse would have also been seen in New Mexico. Image: 1806 eclipse, Ferrer.

 

 

 

July 28, 1851 First Photograph of an EclipseFirst photograph of an eclipse 1851

"The first surviving daguerrotype photograph of the sun (Figure 1) was taken at the dawn of photography in 1845 by French physicists Louis Fizeau (1819-1896) and Lion Foucault (1819-1868). The 5-inch image showed many details including a few sunspots. Berkowski later made the first solar eclipse photograph on July 28, 1851, also using the daguerrotype process, at the Royal Observatory in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kalinigrad in Russia). "

 

 

 

 

 

1860 depiction of an eclipse by Gugliemo Tempel

July 18th, 1860 First observations of a coronal mass ejection 

"The total solar eclipse of 18 July 1860 was probably the most thoroughly observed eclipse up to that time. These drawings include depictions of a peculiar feature in the [NE] (upper left) portion of the corona. Based on comparison with modern coronal observations, it is quite likely that these represent the first record of a Coronal Mass Ejection in progress. Image: A drawing of a solar eclipse in July 1860 by astronomer Gugliemo Tempel also appears to show a coronal mass ejection University of Colorado

 

 

 

November 4th, 1994 The Total Solar Eclipse of 1994 November 31994 eclipse
"This image of the total solar eclipse of 1994 November 3, was photographed from Putre, Chile, by a research team from the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado. 

The photograph of the solar corona was taken with a camera system developed by Gordon A. Newkirk, Jr. This specialized instrument photographs the corona in red light, 6500 A -- through a radially graded filter that suppresses the bright inner corona in order to show the much fainter streamers of the outer corona in the same photograph."

 

2008- Eclipses Yield First Images of Elusive Iron Line in Solar Corona

"This image of the solar corona is a color overlay of the emission from highly ionized iron lines, with white light images added  below. Different colors provide unique information about the temperature and composition of solar material in the corona." Image: S. Habbal/M. Druckmüller, 2008 

 

May 20th, 2012: An Annular Solar Eclipse over New Mexico 

"An estimated 6.6 million Americans, alone, lived along the U.S. path of the solar eclipse, with millions more soaking in the sight from across southern China and Japan.  While spectators along a narrow track saw the moon block out up to 94 percent of the sun, leaving a bright ring round the edges, many other viewers across a wider region reveled in partial solar eclipse views." -Spectacular 'Ring of Fire' Solar Eclipse Wows Millions

October 14th, 2023: Coming soon!

2238- the next full eclipse visible in New Mexico

More maps

You can find more maps like the one below here:

World Atlas of Solar Eclipse Maps: Index Page
1901 - 1920 1921 - 1940 1941 - 1960 1961 - 1980 1981 - 2000 2001 - 2020 2021 - 2040 2041 - 2060 2061 - 2080 2081 - 2100 |

Watch and learn

Free streaming videos from NOVA!

"Use this resource to stimulate curiosity about the motions of the Sun, the Moon, and Earth and to provide opportunities for students to develop and use models of eclipses."

Babylonians and the Saros Cycle

Learn how ancient Babylonians were able to predict eclipses using a pattern deduced from prior observations, in this video from NOVA: Eclipse Over America.

How Halley Predicted the 1715 Eclipse

Learn how Edmond Halley used mathematics to predict the time and path of the 1715 total solar eclipse, in this video from NOVA: Eclipse Over America.

Eclipses 1841-1860

Map showing eclipse paths from 1841 to 1860