Before the science: Eclipses in myth and legend

1 year 2 months 3 weeks 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
JEFFERSON CITY - After being inactive for nearly a year, the Missouri Board of Education is launching a search for... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 7:06:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - State Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, is changing the way she is fundraising after an ethics complaint and... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 6:17:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Police Department is treating the double shooting on Wednesday afternoon as a murder-suicide. ... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 6:00:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – Some people living in Columbia's southside neighborhoods say thieves, using creative technology, are stealing from cars. Haley... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 5:28:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - As Welcome Home marks the first anniversary of its new shelter, a once drug-addicted veteran is artfully finding... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 4:19:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
FULTON- After the State Auditor's report that more local money could go to domestic violence shelters, one survivor reiterated the... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 3:52:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – Wednesday morning firefighters burned a simulated dorm room burn on the MU campus to show students how quickly... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 3:13:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COLE COUNTY – Cole County ended its economic development contract with the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday. The... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 2:32:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
MEXICO - Sen. Claire McCaskill has announced she will oppose Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. McCaskill's... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 2:30:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A former prosecutor and chairman of Missouri's Democratic Party has been sentenced to two years and... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 1:55:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Fire Department ruled a Wednesday morning fire as suspicious. There were no injuries, but the... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 1:28:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - As rivers are still rising in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, donations are also flooding in. However,... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 1:01:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
SEDALIA (AP) — A Kansas City man has pleaded guilty in the fatal shooting of another man at a trailer... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 12:51:00 PM CDT September 19, 2018 in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The search for Missouri's next top education official has begun. The State Board of Education... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 11:24:10 AM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
FULTON - UPDATE: Police have found the two boys who escaped from the Division of Youth Services. Police said... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 10:38:00 AM CDT September 19, 2018 in Top Stories
HOWARD COUNTY - Two people are dead and two others injured after a crash on Highway 87 Tuesday afternoon. ... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 9:51:00 AM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
COOPER COUNTY - Anthony Martin died in a crash in Cooper County on Sunday after losing control of his motorcycle.... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 6:57:00 AM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - A Columbia woman was taken to the Lake Regional Hospital on Sunday after a crash involving a... More >>
4 days ago Wednesday, September 19 2018 Sep 19, 2018 Wednesday, September 19, 2018 6:39:00 AM CDT September 19, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 73°
7pm 73°
8pm 69°
9pm 68°
10pm 66°