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Appendix. The Eclipses during the Reign of Emperor Hui

i. During these seven years, two eclipses were recorded. In the seventh year, the first month, on the day hsin-ch'ou, the first day of the month, the first of these eclipses is recorded (2: 6a). This date corresponds to Feb. 21, 188 B.C. HS 27 Cb: 13a adds, "It was 13 degrees in [the constellation] Wei1"' whose stars were then in R.A. 299°-305°. The Han-chi (5: 14b) gives the cyclical day as hsin-yu, which was not the first day of that month. There was no eclipse on that date, for Oppolzer lists none.

Of the 22 eclipses in the 10 years since the last previously recorded eclipse in 198 B.C. and the 4 months before the next eclipse, only 4 were visible in China. 1 In this period five umbral eclipses were visible or seemingly visible in China: (1) no. 2404, on July 26, 197 B.C., 12 days before a hsin-ch'ou day, sun in long. 118.8°, visible in north China; (2) no. 2408, on June 6, 195 B.C., 52 days before such a day, sun in long. 70.4°; (3) no. 2410, on May 26, 194 B.C., 2 days after such a day, sun in long. 60.3°; (4) no. 2417, on Sept. 29, 192 B.C., 41 days before such a day, sun in long. 182.1° = 181.9° R.A.; (5), no. 2420, on Mar. 14, 190 B.C.; the magnitude of this eclipse was calculated and it was found invisible in China, visible only in western and central Siberia.

The fourth umbral eclipse, that of Sept. 29, 192 B.C., was very likely the one referred to in the text. This eclipse was not recorded in the SC, which was Pan Ku's chief source, so that he must have copied it from some list of eclipses. If that list was partly illegible, it is natural that Pan Ku or an editor of the list of eclipses might have misplaced this eclipse, especially as two eclipses coming close together might be understood to predict the Emperor's death. Thus this eclipse was put about one eclipse season before the next eclipse. Then the hsin-ch'ou 丑 of the text is an error for hsin-yu 酉 (a quite natural mistake), and Hoang's calendar is one day in error. Hsin-yu may indeed have been the original reading in the HS Annals, for the Han-chi today has that reading, although hsin-yu was not the first day of the month in which the eclipse is dated. HS 27 Cb: 16a says that this eclipse was on the same month and day as that of Feb. 15, 2 B.C., so that ch. 27 certainly read hsin-ch'ou. Conflation of the day in the Annals with that in ch. 27 probably came later. If we adopt this assumption, the eclipse happened in the third year, the ninth month, the first day. The location of the eclipse in the heavens is however greatly in error.

ii. In the seventh year, the fifth month, on the day ting-mao, a second eclipse, which is said in the "Annals" to have been total, is recorded (2: 6a). This date was July 17, 188 B.C., on which Oppolzer calculates his solar eclipse no. 2425. He charts the path of totality as passing through Ning-hsia, northern Shensi, a little north of K'ai-feng, and the present Shanghai. Calculation shows that at Ch'ang-an the eclipse reached a magnitude of 0.92 (sun's diameter = 1.00), at 3:12 p.m., local time. Hence the statement of the text in the "Annals" that the eclipse was total must have been taken from reports of places outside the capital. HS ch. 27 however says it was "almost total."

HS 27 Cb: 13a adds that the eclipse was "in the beginning of [the constellation], the Seven Stars," whose stars γ2 and α Hydrae were then in 114.6° and 114.8° R.A. respectively. The longitude calculated for the sun is 110.1° = 111.8° R.A.

HS ch. 27 dates the eclipse on the day before the last day of the month. Hoang's calendar dates it on the last day of the month, whereas Chavannes' calendar (T'oung pao, VII, p. 25, cf. also p. 520) is a day in error in the other direction.


1. Besides those whose location Oppolzer charts, the following 3 partial eclipses were invisible because they belong to initial (i.) or terminal (t.) runs in an exeligmos series whose nearest umbral eclipse was located near the south pole: no. 2412 (t.); no. 2415 (i.); and no. 2422 (i.). In addition four partial eclipses were visible in the northern hemisphere, three of which were calculated and found invisible in the China of that date: no. 2405, no. 2413, and no. 2423. The other partial eclipse, no. 2414, on Oct. 9, 193 B. C. (24 days after a hsin-ch'ou day) was just invisible in Ch'ang-an, but visible at points north and west at sunset.

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IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia