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Appendix II. Solar Eclipses during the Reign of Emperor Ching
During this period of sixteen years, ten eclipses are recorded in the SC or HS. We consider them in their chronological order.
i. In Ch'ien III (the third year of the first part of the reign), the second month, on the day jen-tzu, the last day of the month, a solar eclipse is listed (HS 5: 4a). But, according to P. Hoang, Concordance des chronologies néoméniques chinoise et européenne, there was no jen-tzu day in the second month. HS 27 Cb: 13b dates this eclipse "on [the day] jen-wu, the last day of the month. It was two degrees in [the constellation] Wei(4)." This date was Apr. 5, 154 B.C. The Han-chi (ii cent.) 9:5b however dates this eclipse "in the second month, on [the day] hsin-szu, the first day of the month," which was Apr. 4, 154 B.C., according to Hoang.
Oppolzer calculates his solar eclipse no. 2506 on Apr. 4, 154 B.C., which date Hoang calculates as the day before the last day of the month.
Oppolzer calculates the sun as in long. 10.9° = 10.0° R.A.; the stars of Wei4 were then in 11.2° to 12.8° R.A.
ii. HS 5: 4b says, In Ch'ien IV, "the tenth month, on [the day] mou-hsü, the last day of the month, there was an eclipse of the sun." HS ch. 27 and the Han-chi both fail to list this eclipse. The listing in ch. 5 is moreover peculiar, since here the tenth month, which really began the year, is noted at the end of the year.
Another eclipse in the tenth month at the end of a year is noted in Chung IV, on the day mou-wu. Because of the similarity of these two dates, there is a possibility of conflation between these two recordings. HS ch. 27 lists neither of them.
P. Hoang, in his Catalogue des éclipses de soleil et de lune dans les documents chinois ("Variétés sinologiques", n. 56) suggests Oppolzer's solar eclipse no. 2507, but that was visible only in the southern hemisphere. Chu Wen-hsin, in his Li-tai Jih-shih K'ao (1934) suggests Oppolzer's no. 2510, but that eclipse was also invisible in China. Liu Pin and Chou Shou-ch'ang think that this eclipse is an interpolation, because of the peculiar month, because HS ch. 27 does not list it, and because of the similarity to the one listed for Chung IV. Ho Ch'uo suggests that since the SC lists an "intercalary ninth month" in this year, this intercalary month is intended. Hoang does not however put any mou-hsü day in that intercalary month, making such a day the twenty-fifth of the regular ninth month, Oct. 12, 153 B.C.
In the four years between the preceeding correctly recorded eclipse in 154 B.C. and the next such a one in 150 B.C., there occurred eight solar eclipses, of which only two were visible in China. 1 The eclipse of Aug. 7, 152 B.C. was invisible in Ch'ang-an, but calculation shows that at the present Peiping it reached a magnitude of 0.08 (totality = 1.00) at sunrise. This day was in Ch'ien V, the sixth month, on the day ting-yu, the day before the last day of the month. Calculation shows also that the eclipse of Feb. 2, 151 B.C. reached a magnitude of 0.03 at Ch'ang-an at 10:08 a.m., local time; at the present Ch'ang-sha it reached a magnitude of 0.15 at 10:27 a.m., local time. This date was in Ch'ien VI, the first month, the day ping-shen, the first day of the month.
ping-shen is two days before mou-hsü and ting-yu is the day before mou-hsü. Since Hoang's calendar (from which these datings are taken) might be as much as three days in error, either of these two eclipses might be the one referred to in this recording, as far as the cyclical days go. These eclipses were however both quite small and would easily be missed. Since our other sources do not list this eclipse, it is more probably an interpolation into the text, possibly a conflation or dittography for the other peculiar eclipse in Chung IV.
iii. In Ch'ien VII, the eleventh month, on the day keng-yin, the last day of the month, a third eclipse of the sun is recorded (5:5a). HS 27 Cb: 13b also records it and adds, "It was 9 degrees in [the constellation] Hsü." The SC (Mh II, 501) mistakenly dates this eclipse on the last day of the twelfth month.
Hoang gives this date as Jan. 22, 150 B.C.; Oppolzer calculates his solar eclipse no. 2515 for that date. He calculates the sun's longitude as 299.1° = 301.2° R.A. The two stars of Hsü were then in 291.8° and 293.9° R.A.
iv. In Chung I, the twelfth month, on the day chia-yin, the last day of the month, a fourth solar eclipse is listed in HS 27 Cb: 13b; ch. 5 and the Han-chi do not mention this eclipse. Hoang gives this date as Feb. 10, 149 B.C. There was no eclipse on that date.
In the three years between the preceding eclipse and the next correctly recorded one in 147 B.C., there were 7 solar eclipses, of which only one was visible in China. 2 This one occurred on June 7, 149 B.C., in Chung I, the fifth month, on the day jen-tzu, the last day of the month. Oppolzer charts the moon's umbra as passing into northern Siberia, so that this eclipse was visible as a small partial eclipse in northern China.
chia-yin is the second day after jen-tzu; it is likely that Hoang's calendar is here two days in error and that "fifth" was misread as "twelfth," so that the eclipse of 149 B.C. is the one intended in this recording. Then the Han-chi did not list all the eclipses given in the HS, and missed this one because it is listed only in HS ch. 27.
v. In Chung II, the ninth month, on the day chia-hsü, the last day of the month, a fifth solar eclipse is recorded (5: 6b; 27 Cb: 13b; Han-chi 9: 14b). Hoang gives this date as Oct. 22, 148 B.C. No eclipse happened on that day.
If we are correct in identifying the preceeding eclipse with that of 149 B.C., there was no solar eclipse visible in China between the two eclipses of 150 and 147 B.C.
This listing is probably dittography for the next eclipse. Both were listed in the ninth month, one on the day chia-hsü and the other on the day mou-hsü; one in the second year and the other in the third year. In the list of eclipses in ch. 27 this dittography is quite plain. There two groups, each of eleven characters, follow each other, differing only in two characters. If, possibly in copying the original astronomical records, the word for "three" had been carelessly written "two," and someone had added the correct notation of the next eclipse and had also noted that mou-hsü is incorrect for that month of the second year and had changed mou to chia, the list would stand as it is now. Its insertion into the Annals would naturally have followed.
vi. In Chung III, the ninth month, on the day mou-hsü, the last day of the month, a sixth solar eclipse is recorded (5: 6b; 27 Cb: 13b; Han-chi 9: 14b). Ch. 27 adds, "It was almost total. It was nine degrees in Wei(3)."
Hoang gives this date as Nov. 10, 147 B.C., for which Oppolzer calculates his solar eclipse no. 2523. He charts the moon's umbra as passing approximately through the present Urga, Mongolia, and Shanhai-kuan, Hopei. Calculation shows that the eclipse reached a magnitude of 0.77 in Ch'ang-an at 10:58 a.m., local time.
The sun's longitude was 224.9° = 222.4° R.A. The nine stars of Wei(3) ranged in R.A. from 218.2° to 230.7°.
vii. In Chung IV, at the end of the record for the year, there is listed an eclipse of the sun in the tenth month, on the day mou-wu (5: 7a; Han-chi 9: 14b). HS ch. 27 does not list this eclipse. There could of course be no tenth month at the end of the year, for the tenth month was the first month in a year.
In the three years between the preceeding eclipse and the next correctly recorded one in 144 B.C., there were six solar eclipses, of which only one was visible in China. 3 This one occurred on the morning of Mar. 26, 145 B.C. It was invisible at Ch'ang-an and even in the ancient Lu, the modern Ch'ü-fou, Shantung. But at Jung-ch'eng, on the eastern tip of the Shantung peninsula, the eclipse reached a magnitude of 0.16 at sunrise, according to calculation. This day was in Chung V, the second month, the day keng-shen, the last day of the month, according to Hoang.
mou-wu is the second day before keng-shen. There thus occurred an eclipse within a few months of the time when this eclipse is said to have occurred, on a cyclical day which was possibly the same cyclical day as that for which it was listed (since Hoang's calendar might be two days in error). At sunrise an eclipse must reach a magnitude of 0.33 to be conspicuous, and an eclipse of 0.16 is visible to the naked eye. It is possible that some official in eastern Shantung reported this eclipse to the imperial court and that somehow the record got into the "Imperial Annals" in a garbled form. Since the list in ch. 27 seems to represent the records of the court astronomers, it is natural that this eclipse did not get into that list.
viii. In Chung VI, the seventh month, on the day hsin-hai, the last day of the month, an eighth eclipse is recorded (5: 8b; 27 Cb: 14a; Han-chi 9: 15b). Ch. 27 adds, "It was 7 degrees in [the constellation] Chen(3)."
Hoang gives this day as Sept. 8, 144 B.C., for which Oppolzer calculates his solar eclipse no. 2530. He charts the path of totality as passing near the present Canton.
He calculates the sun in long. 161.6° = 163.2° R.A. The stars of Chen(3) then ranged from 155.7° to 161.4° R.A.
ix. In Hou I, the seventh month, on the day yi-szu, a ninth solar eclipse is recorded. HS 5: 8b says it was on the last day of the month; 27 Cb: 14a however says it was "one day before the last day of the month," and adds, "It was 17 degrees in [the constellation] Yi."
Hoang gives this date as Aug. 28, 143 B.C., the day before the last day of the month, for which day Oppolzer calculates his solar eclipse no. 2532. He charts the path of totality as passing through Siberia and the island of Yezo.
He calculates the sun's longitude as 150.8° = 152.9° R.A. The stars of Yi then ranged from 136.0° to 144.7° R.A.
x. Under Hou III, the tenth month, which was Nov. 16-Dec. 14, 142 B.C., the SC (Mh II, 508) says, "The sun and the moon were both eclipsed and red for five days." The HS does not mention this matter either in the Annals or in ch. 27. The only solar eclipse visible in China between that of 143 B.C. and the next correctly recorded one in 138 B.C. was that of Aug. 8, 141 B.C., which may have been separately recorded in ch. 6. 4 This record seems to refer to a dust-storm.
1. Besides those located by Oppolzer, three were partial. Of those, no. 2508 was near the south polar regions; the other two, upon cursory calculation, were also found located outside China.
2. The one partial eclipse, no. 2517, was located near the south pole. Five other eclipses are charted as invisible in China.
3. Three were partial eclipses; two, nos. 2525 and 2526 were near the south pole. The other, on Apr. 6, 146 B.C. was calculated and found invisible, in Chinese longitudes, south of 60° N lat. The two other eclipses are charted as plainly invisible in China.
4. In this period of 5 years there were 12 solar eclipses, of which 6 were partial. Nos 2534 and 2543 were near the south pole. The remaining four were calculated and found invisible in China. There was no eclipse of the moon in Nov./Dec. 142 B.C.
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|Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia|