100 Days Until Totality Blog Series: 67 Days Left – The Black Hour

An Astronomer mapping the Southern Cross during the Middle Ages

Since the beginning of Astronomical history, humans have been fascinated with patterns and phenomena from the sky. During the Middle Ages, astrologers looked to the stars to satisfy that feeling of control and understanding by seeing routine motions as stars rose and set in the same direction each night. Moreover, they formed recognizable constellations in the sky that went along consistently with dogma and legends of the time.

Path of The Black Hour Eclipse
NASA Eclipse Website

However, when something unique and out of place occurred in the sky, it sent panic and discord throughout the minds of folks looking upwards. The total solar eclipse of 1433 C.E. in Scotland was no different. This solar eclipse was a significant event that records of the time call “The Black Hour”. The people who experienced the event mention that the eclipse was uniquely widespread and even darker than most eclipses, lasting roughly 1 hour. In this particular eclipse, the moon was only 0.8 days after perigee, making the moon slightly larger in appearance and totality lasting a fairly long 4 minutes and 38 seconds. Even more terrifying, at this time deadly diseases such as smallpox, measles, and leprosy were making their way around European lands. For this reason, people may have seen this extraordinary eclipse as a bad omen that had brought sickness upon them. When the sky went dark in the middle of the day, it was nothing short of a nightmare for folks living in a very superstitious time in history.

Sources here and here.

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