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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

We're all going to die!

A solar eclipse will darken the skies over the United States Monday (Aug. 21), giving most of us our first chance to see a full solar eclipse.

The "Great American Eclipse" will begin off the coast of Oregon and race across the country for 90 minutes before exiting off the coast of Charleston, S.C.

Scientifically speaking, a total solar eclipse happens about twice a year, but this is the first time in almost 100 years that the continental United States will have a prime view of the event. And while an estimated 100 million people are expected to get out the popcorn and pinhole projectors, our medieval counterparts took a dim view of the natural phenomena (pun intended).

When the eclipse began, they would have been surprised, frightened, and curious.

In the 12th century, John of Worcester, a medieval chronicler, wrote: "In 1133 a darkness appeared in the sky throughout England. In some places it was only a little dark, but in others candles were needed. ... The sun looked liked a new moon, thought its shape constantly changed. Some said that this was an eclipse of the sun. If so, then the sun was at the Head of the Dragon and the moon at its Tail, or vice versa. ... King Henry left England for Normandy never to return alive."

Henry I died two years later on Dec. 1, 1135, reputedly from food poisoning from a surfeit of lampreys (eels).

Within a few years, England was embroiled in civil war.

And within the decade, there was another eclipse. In 1140, William of Malmesbury wrote: "There was an eclipse throughout England, and the darkness was so great that people at first thought the world was ending. Afterwards, they realized it was an eclipse, went out, and could see the stars in the sky. It was thought and said by many, not untruly, that the king would soon lose his power."

The king in question was Stephen of Blois, King of England after stealing the throne from Matilda, Henry I's daughter and appointed heir. And while he technically sat on the throne until 1154, you could make a good case that he lost his power long before he died. He was not, as we medievalists say, a good king.

We are no longer surprised by eclipses, and we've known this one was coming for a long time.

Where I live, I'll see 90 percent of the sun eaten by the dragon. If you get a chance, tell us how much of the eclipse you'll see and how you plan to watch it. If you're not sure how much you'll be able to see, go here to find out.

Keena Kincaid writes historical romances in which passion, magic and treachery collide to create unforgettable stories. Her books are available from Prairie Rose Publications and Amazon. For more information on her stories, visit her Amazon page, her website, or Facebook.


  1. Oh the lore of the eclipse. Thank you for sharing the Medieval writings. As for myself, it will be 90% also. Doris

    1. If something bad happens on Monday, I'm going to blame the eclipse. :-)

  2. Keena,
    I was 7-ish when a solar eclipse occurred. I remember my dad fixing up a welding helmet for us to watch it safely. I haven't checked the percentage where I live for the coming eclipse, but since I live about 200 miles southwest of Doris, I'm guessing it will be roughly 90%. Lol

    1. I've heard that tons of people are traveling to view it. NASA is also looking for people to record various bits of data.

  3. Great post, Keena! I'll see 90-95% coverage here in the Ozarks. An hour north, Jefferson City, MO, is in the path and will get 100% eclipse. I'm looking forward to the event. I remember a couple of partial eclipses in my years--and know how to make a pinhole projector.

  4. it's so nice for the workings of the natural universe to plan such a spectacular event for my birthday this year. Thanks for the great post.

  5. I am so excited about this eclipse. I know how these natural events were perceived through history as ominous predictions or warnings of some kind. I'm glad science has helped us see them as natural cosmic events, rare and wonderful.
    By the way, the United States Post Office has issued commemorative stamps honoring the eclipse. And get this, not only does the paper behind the stamps have the projector of the eclipse across the states, but the stamps are heat sensitive and change when you touch them. Now how great is that?