Before the science: Eclipses in myth and legend

10 months 3 weeks 3 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 discussed a recent engineering study today centering on increasing traffic flow east of Columbia.... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 7:11:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
LAKE OZARK - The Missouri State Highway Patrol is encouraging people to practice safe boating ahead of Memorial Day weekend.... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 6:55:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
HOLTS SUMMIT - After two months without a police department, New Bloomfield finally has one thanks to the city of... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 5:50:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit filed after Athletic Director Jim... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 4:54:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in Sports
MONROE CITY - Some people diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease fight back, as did Michael Crager, the founder of Rock Steady... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 4:18:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – The U.S. Department of Health and Senior Services made changes to a family planning program, which the... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:56:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - In sometimes heated testimony, members of a Special House Investigative Committee looking into the Eric Greitens... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:54:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A report on a statewide rape kit audit shows that there are at least 4,889 untested sexual... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:23:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - With the holiday weekend approaching, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Save Our Air Medical Resources (SOAR)... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 1:28:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – More than 36 million drivers will hit the road during Memorial Day Weekend, according to AAA. Just... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 12:20:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A statewide program bringing together prisoners and puppies is celebrating a major milestone. A four-month-old redbone... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 10:15:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he thinks Kim Jong Un wants to do "what's right" but says it's... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 10:09:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
RANDOLPH COUNTY - A Huntsville man pleaded guilty to murder on Tuesday and received a life sentence with no chance... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 8:37:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) through the Mid-Mo Adult Learning Center honored 25 adults at... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 8:10:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
BUNNIK, Netherlands (AP) — An international team of investigators said Thursday that detailed analysis of video images and photos... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 5:58:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump is violating the First Amendment when he... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 7:10:00 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in Continuous News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal district court in St. Louis has ruled that the Missouri prison system must... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 5:48:22 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
MID-MISSOURI - If you look at the forecast you can easily tell that summer is here early. Don't forget that... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 5:43:00 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in Weather
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 79°
1am 75°
2am 74°
3am 73°
4am 73°