Earliest record of an Auror candidate found in Chinese chronicles

(ORDO NEWS) — A celestial phenomenon mentioned in an ancient Chinese text is the oldest known reference to a candidate Auror, predating the next by about three centuries, according to a recent study by Marinus Anthony van der Sluys, an independent researcher from Canada, and Hisashi Hayakawa of Nagoya University.

The Bamboo Chronicles, or “Zhushu Jin’an”, describe the history of China from the earliest legendary times to the time of their likely compilation in the 4th century BC.

In addition to historical events, unusual observations of the sky periodically appear in the text. Although this chronicle has been known to scholars for a long time, a fresh look at such old texts sometimes reveals surprising new discoveries.

In this case, the authors considered the mention of the “five-color light” seen in the northern part of the sky on the night before the end of the reign of King Zhao of the Zhou dynasty.

Although the exact year is unknown, they used modern reconstructions of Chinese chronology and settled on 977 and 957 BC as the two most likely years, depending on how Zhao’s reign is dated.

They found that the “five-color light” record was consistent with a major geomagnetic storm. When bright enough at mid-latitudes, aurora can present a spectacle of many colors.

Researchers cite several similar examples from historical records that are much closer to our time. It is known that in the middle of the 10th century BC, the north magnetic pole of the Earth was tilted towards Eurasia, about 15 ° closer to central China than at present.

Therefore, the auroral oval could be visible to observers in central China during periods of significant magnetic disturbances. According to the authors of the study, the equatorial boundary of the auroral oval should have been located at a magnetic latitude of 40° or less.

This would be the earliest dated record of an aurora known from anywhere in the world. This find came just two years after the previous one, several records of candidate Aurors recorded on cuneiform tablets by Assyrian astronomers in the period 679-655 BC.

Some scholars have also linked Ezekiel’s vision, now dated to 594 or 593 B.C.E., to auroral visibility in the Near East, but a caveat must be added to its reliability. Otherwise, another dated record of an early candidate Auror has been found for 567 BC. in the astronomical diary of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II.

Why did it take scientists so long to recognize the aurora in the five-color light of this chronicle record? One reason is that The Bamboo Chronicles had a confusing history. The original manuscript was lost, rediscovered in the 3rd century AD. and lost again during the Song Dynasty.

In the 16th century, a version of the text was printed in which the object in the sky was not a five-color light, but a comet. A new study shows that this could not have been the original choice.

Interesting in itself is the fact that popular descriptions of the northern lights can be carried so far back in time. However, such historical information is valuable for other reasons as well.

It helps scientists model long-term patterns in the variability of space weather and solar activity over time scales ranging from decades to millennia.

Understanding these fluctuations, in turn, can help society prepare for future massive solar eruptions and disruptions to the technological infrastructure they may cause.

This entry is, to date, the only known historical reference to a space weather event prior to the Homeric Great (solar) Minimum (810-740 BCE), which is preferred to be called the Neo-Assyrian Great Minimum due to the disputed historicity and dates of Homer.


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