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physics

Photograph of an eclipse taken from Skylab in 1973. Credit: SSPL / NASA

On Monday 21 August 2017, a solar eclipse was visible across most of the United States for the first time in a century. To celebrate, curator Ali Boyle shared a short history of eclipses and a few favourite objects from our collection.

Etienne Trouvelot, Lithograph in colour, Total eclipse of sun; observed 29 July 1878.

Since the dawn of human consciousness, a total eclipse has been seen as unsettling, even frightening, a short-lived triumph of evil over good that was thought to be a bad omen. Attitudes towards this drama changed over the millennia, first with ancient calendars that charted the rhythms of the heavens, then with increasingly accurate scientific observations of the moment when the Moon snuffs out the Sun. As this way of thinking took hold, the eclipse morphed from a mystical into […]

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