Odysseus

Apr. 16th, 2012 12:37 pm
kitgordon: the atlantic near st just (Default)
[personal profile] kitgordon
Just learned this today, so wanted to record it:
1178 BC, April 16—A solar eclipse occurs. This may have marked the return of Odysseus, legendary King of Ithaca, to his kingdom after the Trojan War. He discovers a number of suitors competing to marry his wife Penelope, whom they believe to be a widow, in order to succeed him on the throne. He organizes their slaying and re-establishes himself on the throne. The date is surmised from a passage in Homer's Odyssey, which reads, "The Sun has been obliterated from the sky, and an unlucky darkness invades the world." This happens in the context of a new moon and at noon, both necessary preconditions for a full solar eclipse.[1] In 2008, to investigate, Dr Marcelo O. Magnasco, an astronomer at Rockefeller University, and Constantino Baikouzis, of the Observatorio Astrónomico de La Plata in Argentina, looked for more clues. Within the text, they interpreted three definitive astronomical events: there was a new moon on the day of the slaughter (as required for a solar eclipse); Venus was visible and high in the sky six days before; and the constellations Pleiades and Boötes were both visible at sunset 29 days before. Since these events recur at different intervals, this particular sequence should be unique: the doctors found only one occurrence of this sequence while searching between 1250 and 1115 BC, the 135-year spread around the putative date for the fall of Troy. It coincided with the eclipse of April 16, 1178 BC.

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