Before the science: Eclipses in myth and legend

9 months 2 weeks 6 days ago Monday, July 03 2017 Jul 3, 2017 Monday, July 03, 2017 3:08:00 PM CDT July 03, 2017 in Eclipse Science
By: Carolina Brigagao, KOMU 8 Reporter
Photo courtesy Rick Fienberg/TravelQuest International/Wilderness Travel

COLUMBIA -The total solar eclipse, which will cross Missouri on Aug. 21, is drawing a lot of attention to the science of astronomy. But ancient civilizations did not have the benefit of scientific knowledge and created a wide variety of myths and legends to explain eclipses. (See our interactive timeline.)

"The beauty of an eclipse was not always appreciated by those who saw in it a threat to the order of their everyday lives," wrote Edwin Charles Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, in his book "Beyond the Blue Horizon." "Imagine what ancient people must have felt when they saw the sun darken without warning." 

MU's director of astronomy, Angela Speck, shares the same view.

“It would get dark in seconds and that must be terrifying,” she said.

Eclipses had a greater religious and cultural significance to ancient civilizations than they do today. They were explained with stories about gods fighting, the coming of the apocalypse or creatures attacking the sun or the moon.

“It’s always some kind of beasties that swallows the sun,” Speck said.

Even with advanced technology and an understanding of eclipses, people decide to believe in unfounded superstitions, Speck said.

There is a popular misconception in Mexico and in North American that eclipses are harmful to pregnant women and their unborn children.

In some parts of India, some believe any food cooked while an eclipse is taking place will be poisonous. 

But not all modern superstitions are based on fear. In Italy, it is believed that flowers planted during a solar eclipse are brighter and more colorful than flowers planted any other time of the year.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA – The Columbia City Council met Monday night in a work session to discuss ways to improve Columbia's water... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 8:00:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA – Hundreds gathered at the first ever Japanese Spring Festival on MU’s campus Monday afternoon. Student Momoko Tamamura came... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 7:21:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY – One local woman is reflecting on her decision to vote for President Donald Trump after some have... More >>
9 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 7:00:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Top Stories
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The law firm representing the ex-husband of the woman who had an affair with Missouri... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 5:45:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Continuous News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A Democratic Missouri state lawmaker says he won't step down despite facing backlash for repeatedly calling... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 5:21:20 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - MU staff members spent Monday afternoon discussing how the university could become Columbia's "employer of choice" again with... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 5:05:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Residents moving into the Lynn Street Cottages in Columbia not only obtain four new walls, they also receive... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 4:14:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Students at Rock Bridge High School will be attending prom this weekend, and for the first time ever,... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 4:13:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Continuous News
JOPLIN - An EF-5 tornado struck the city of Joplin on May 22, 2011. The next day Jeff Neal, a... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 3:29:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Tax reform in Missouri is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Missouri House Ways... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 2:56:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
JOPLIN - More businesses, new schools and new homes- one drive through Joplin reveals a clear transformation from devastation to... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 2:20:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Lawmakers in Missouri added a $3 million dollar line to the Attorney General’s budget for sexual assault... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 2:11:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Latest on shooting at Tennessee restaurant that left four dead (all times local):... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 1:22:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - When it comes to losing weight, many of us start with looking at our diet. Are we eating... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 12:21:00 PM CDT April 23, 2018 in Weekly Wellness
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Attorneys for Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens say they will seek to disqualify prosecutors in the... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 11:37:40 AM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Only one week old, Molly was outside in the snow and sleet. She was found in a... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 11:14:00 AM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
SEDALIA (AP) — A former volunteer at a small Missouri museum has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars' worth... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 11:04:00 AM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA -Bullets hit a Columbia residence early Sunday morning while five people were inside. It happened just after 4... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, April 23 2018 Apr 23, 2018 Monday, April 23, 2018 9:59:00 AM CDT April 23, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 52°
4am 53°
5am 52°
6am 50°
7am 51°