(ORDO NEWS) — Recordings of total solar eclipses dating back to the fourth century show patterns in the motion of the planet.
A solar eclipse is a rare occurrence that occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, causing many to freak out.
The researchers studied historical documents from about 1500 years ago and identified five total solar eclipses observed in the Eastern Mediterranean from the 4th to 7th centuries AD.
They pinpointed the likely time and location of each eclipse. Five eclipses were in 346, 418, 484, 601 and 693 AD.
Scientists have identified solar eclipses at a time when they were previously difficult to pinpoint.
The researchers looked at records from the Byzantine Empire to find data on total solar eclipses in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 4th-7th centuries.
They used these documents to understand how the Earth’s rotation has changed over thousands of years.
However, due to the historical nature of this study, some important details may have been omitted by those who recorded the events centuries ago.
This is data that can be vital to today’s astronomers, including precise locations and times.
The researchers went to great lengths to ensure that the study was reliable and accurate, despite the fact that the records were made centuries ago.
“Although the original eyewitness accounts of this period are mostly lost, quotations, translations, etc. recorded by later generations provide valuable information,” said Koji Murata, associate professor at the University of Tsukuba in Japan.
An auxiliary factor in the study is the formula for delta T, described as “the difference between time measured according to the rotation of the Earth and time independent of the rotation of the Earth.
The delta T oscillations represent the length of the Earth’s day.”
A detailed account of ancient eclipses with this key variable allowed the researchers to provide an example of an accurate record of eclipses from thousands of years ago.
They identified one that took place on July 19, 418, in Constantinople, then the capital of the Roman Empire, and Istanbul, which is now in modern Turkey.
Scientists have found that during the analyzed period, the speed of the Earth’s rotation first decreased and then increased.
Detailed information about the rotation of the Earth will help scientists learn more about other historical global events, including changing sea levels and shifting glacial ice around the planet.
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