Learn about the evolution of eclipse predictions, in this pair of videos from NOVA: Eclipse Over America. Ancient Babylonians were able to predict eclipses using a pattern deduced from prior observations. This cycle, now known as the Saros cycle, repeats about every 18 years and allowed Babylonian astronomers to predict eclipses to within about 4 hours, although they could not say where an eclipse would occur. Edmond Halley was the first person to accurately predict the time and path of a total solar eclipse using mathematics and Newton’s law of gravity. He successfully predicted the time and path of the 1715 total solar eclipse to within about 4 minutes and 20 miles.
To view the Teaching Tips for this media gallery, go to Support Materials below. This resource was developed through WGBH’s Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms project, in collaboration with NASA.
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