Celestial / Solar Eclipse

478BC Feb. 17

Event #2360: Solar eclipse

Stable URL: http://cof.quantumfuturegroup.org/events/2360


Text #3294

Anaxagoras of Clazomenae. Fragments and Testimonia
[p. 95]

The sun is larger than the Peloponnese. (Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies 1.8.8)

Text #8594

Anaxagoras of Clazomenae. Fragments and Testimonia
[p. 78]

Anaxagoras held that the sun is a fiery mass of red-hot metal and is larger than the Peloponnese (although some attribute this view to Tantalus), and that the moon has dwelling places, and also hills and ravines. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 2.8)

Text #8595

Anaxagoras of Clazomenae. Fragments and Testimonia
[p. 110]

Anaxagoras says that the sun is many times larger than the Peloponnese. (Aëtius 2.21.3).

Text #8596

Editorial comment by Zadig

Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (ca. 510-428 BC) was perhaps the most famous scientist-philosopher of his time. He spent some thirty years in Athens and enjoyed the patronage of Pericles, before being charged with impiety and exiled in Lampsacus. His greatest achievement was to give the correct explanation of eclipses.

Diogenes Laertius and others report that Anaxagoras compared the sizes of the sun and the moon with the Peloponnese.Graham1 argues that this claim has an empirical basis: the annular solar eclipse of 17 February 478 visible in the Peloponnese2 led him to make the inference.

Anaxagoras’ method was that the calculation of the size of the sun was a derivative of the calculation of the size of the moon. Anaxagoras could have argued, Graham maintains, that the shadow of the moon equaled roughly the diameter of the moon, and that he could have gathered information about where the complete eclipse was observed and where not. If “Anaxagoras was in Athens, he could have both witnessed the annular eclipse and found out who else had seen the eclipse simply by hanging out in Athens’ port the Piraeus and talking with seamen, merchants and travelers.”3 The result was according to these researchers that the moon was roughly the size of the Peloponnesus, and that the sun must be bigger than the moon4.

  1. Graham D.W., Hintz E., “Anaxagoras and the Solar Eclipse of 478 BC”. Apeiron 40, 2007, p. 319-44; Graham D.W, Science Before Socrates: Parmenides, Anaxagoras and the New Astronomy 2013; Graham D.W., Explaining the Cosmos, 2006, p. 221-222.

  2. The shadow of the eclipse moved eastward over the Atlantic Ocean, covered the whole breadth of the Peloponnesus except for the extreme northwest, traversed the Attic peninsula, headed northeast over the Aegean, covered northern Ionia and Mysia, brushed the Hellespont, darkened the Bosporus, crossed portions of western Black Sea, and then continued northeast across southern Russia. At the time of the eclipse of 478 Anaxagoras was approximately 22 years old.

  3. Graham D.W., Hintz E., op.cit.

  4. See also Couprie D, “Anaxagoras and the solar eclipse of 17 February 478 BC”, Lecture held at the Research Center for Theory and History of science of the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, 4th March 2014, and at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, 6th March 2014; Couprie, Dirk L. 2009. “Anaxagoras and the Size of the Sun”, in E. Close, et al. (eds.) “Greek Research in Australia: Proceedings of the Biennial International Conference of Greek Studies, Flinders University June 2007”, Flinders University Department of Languages - Modern Greek: Adelaide, p. 21-30

Text #8597

Plutarch. On the Face in the Moon
[Ch. 19 p. 121]

In fact the Egyptians, I think, say that the moon is one seventy-second part (of the earth), and Anaxagoras that it is the size of the Peloponnesus

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