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Appendix IV. Eclipses during the Rule of Wang Mang
i. In Chü-shê I, x (the tenth month), on the day ping-ch'en, the first day of the month, an eclipse of the sun is recorded (99 A: 29b; Han-chi 30: 7b). Hoang equates this date with Nov. 10, A.D. 6, but there was no eclipse on that date.
In the 12 years between the previous eclipse of A.D. 2 and the next correctly recorded eclipse in 14 A.D., there were 28 solar eclipses, of which three were visible in China. 1 These three were all calculated by Neugebauer's tables, and the following results were reached: The eclipse of Apr. 8, 4 A.D. was invisible in Ch'ang-an, but at the present Peking it reached a magnitude of 0.15 at 4:06 p.m., local time. The eclipse of Sept. 11, A.D. 6 reached a magnitude of 0.95 at Ch'ang-an at 3:59 p.m., local time. Hoang and Chen Yuan (Comparative Daily Calender) both equate this date with Chü-shê I, vii, last day, ping-ch'en. Then 十 is an error for 七 and 朔 is an error for 晦 or, since these calenders might have been a day in error, the eclipse might well have happened on the first day of the eighth month, so that 十 is an error for 八. The eclipse of June 30, 10, was invisible at Ch'ang-an and Peking, but at So-fang, the present Ning-hsia, it reached a magnitude of 0.46 at sunset.
In view of the nearness in time and the magnitude of the eclipse, the eclipse of 6 A.D. is undoubtedly the one referred to in the text; it requires merely a slight emendation in the text, an error that may have been in Pan Ku's source.
ii. On T'ien-feng I, iii, jen-shen, the last day, a second eclipse is recorded. (HS 99 B: 23a; Han-chi 30: 13b.) Hoang and Yuan both equate this date with Apr. 18, 14 A.D., for which Oppolzer calculates his solar eclipse no. 2917. It was merely partial; calculation according to Neugebauer's tables shows that at Ch'ang-an it reached a magnitude of 0.30 at 6: 19 a.m. local time.
iii. On T'ien-feng III, vii, mou-tzu, the last day, a third eclipse of the sun is recorded (HS 99 B: 29b; Han-chi 30: 14b). Hoang and Yuan both equate this date with Aug. 21, 16 A.D., for which Oppolzer calculates his solar eclipse no. 2923. He charts the path of totality as passing through the present Canton and the Philippines.
In the two years since the preceding recorded eclipse, 5 solar eclipses occurred, of which one was visible in China. 2 This one occurred on Sept. 2, 15 A.D. Calculation shows that it was invisible in Ch'ang-an, but at the present Peiping it reached a magnitude of 0.07 at 9: 10 a.m., local time.
In the 9 years from the time of this recorded eclipse to the first eclipse recorded by the HHS in the reign of Emperor Kuang-wu, which occurred on Feb. 6, 26 A.D., there were 24 solar eclipses, of which only one was visible in China. 3 This one occurred on Dec. 15, 19 A.D. Calculation by Neugebauer's elements shows that it was invisible in Ch'ang-an and north China, but at the present Canton it reached a magnitude of 0.03 at 7:47 a.m., local time, so that it was hardly visible in China.
1. Besides those charted by Oppolzer, the following partial eclipses were located near the south pole: nos. 2889, 2890, 2899, 2900, 2909, and 2916. The following were calculated by Oppolzer's elements and shown plainly invisible in China: nos. 2891, 2898, 2901, 2908. The following umbral eclipses were also calculated by Oppolzer's elements and found invisible: nos. 2895, 2896, 2903, 2904, 2910, 2911, 2915.
2. Two were merely partial; #2919 was located near the south pole; the other, #2918 was calculated by Oppolzer's elements and found invisible as far south as China.
3. Eleven were merely partial; nos. 2926, 2929, 2935, 2936, 2945, 2946 were located near the south pole. Of the others, nos. 2927, 2928, 2930, 2932, 2934, 2937, 2939, 2944, 2947 were so far outside of China that a rough calculation by Oppolzer's elements was sufficient to determine them to be invisible in China. The remaining one, not charted, no. 2937, on Nov. 23, 21, was calculated by Neugebauer's tables and found to have been too far north to have been visible in China.The eclipse of Feb. 16, 25 was listed in the Ku-chin Chu (about 300 A.D.), according to a note to HHS, Tr. 18: 1a. (It is not in the present text of that book.) Oppolzer calculated his eclipse no. 2944 for that date, and both Hoang, Catalogue des eclipses, and Chu Wen-chin, Li-tai Jih-shih K'ao, list this eclipse among Chinese eclipses. Calculation by Neugebauer's tables shows that on the morning of Feb. 17 it was visible in Alaska. western United States and Canada, and the eastern Pacific Ocean. But it was invisible in China. It was merely partial. This eclipse could not have been observed, and must have been calculated by Chinese astronomers. The listing of this eclipse by Hoang and Chu shows how dangerous it is to assume an eclipse to have been observed, without calculating its circumstances, especially when it was merely partial.Of the umbral eclipses, those on June 10, 20 and Nov. 23, 21 seemed promising; they were also calculated by Neugebauer's tables, and both found invisible in China. The first one was located too far south, and the other too far north.
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|Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia|