Aurorae: The earliest datable observation of the aurora borealis

  title={Aurorae: The earliest datable observation of the aurora borealis},
  author={F. Stephenson and D. Willis and T. Hallinan},
  journal={Astronomy \& Geophysics},
The Late Babylonian astronomical texts, discovered at the site of Babylon (32.5°N, 44.4°E) more than a century ago, contain what is probably the earliest reliable account of the aurora borealis. A clay tablet recording numerous celestial observations made by the official astronomers during the 37th year of King Nebuchadnezzar II (568/567 BC) describes an unusual “red glow” in the sky at night; the exact date of this observation corresponds to the night of 12/13 March in 567 BC. The most likely… Expand

Paper Mentions

The earliest drawings of datable auroras and a two-tail comet from the Syriac Chronicle of Zūqnīn
People have probably been watching the sky since the beginning of human history. Observers in pre-telescopic ages recorded anomalous events and these astronomical records in the historical documentsExpand
An early mid-latitude aurora observed by Rozier (Béziers, 1780)
Abstract. Aurorae Observations are an uncommon phenomenon at low latitudes that, at the end of the 18th century was not well known and understood. Low latitude Aurorae observations provideExpand
An Early Low Latitude Aurora Observed by Rozier (Beziers, 1780)
Aurora observations are an uncommon phenomenon at low and mid latitudes that, at the end of the 18th century, were not well known and understood. Low and mid geomagnetic latitude aurora observationsExpand
The Earliest Candidates of Auroral Observations in Assyrian Astrological Reports: Insights on Solar Activity around 660 BCE
Auroral records found in historical archives and cosmogenic isotopes found in natural archives have served as sound proxies of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and solar energetic particles (SEPs),Expand
The Celestial Sign in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in the 770s: Insights on Contemporary Solar Activity
The anomalous concentration of radiocarbon in 774/775 attracted intense discussion on its origin, including the possible extreme solar event(s) exceeding any events in observational history.Expand
Historical space weather monitoring of prolonged aurora activities in Japan and in China
Great magnetic storms are recorded as aurora sightings in historical documents. The earliest known example of “prolonged” aurora sightings, with aurora persistent for two or more nights within aExpand
Earliest datable records of aurora-like phenomena in the astronomical diaries from Babylonia
Results of a survey of aurora-like phenomena in ADB, spanning from BCE 652 to BCE 61, have been presented and it is suggested that five records can be considered as likely candidate for aurora observations. Expand
Terrestrial Aurorae and Solar–Terrestrial Relations
Few phenomena have made as much of an impression on human beings as the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights. The aurora is one of the most spectacular and earliest-known manifestationsExpand
Long-Lasting Extreme Magnetic Storm Activities in 1770 Found in Historical Documents
Dim red aurora at low magnetic latitudes is a visual and recognized manifestation of geomagnetic storms. The great low-latitude auroral displays seen throughout East Asia on 16-18 September 1770 areExpand
The Ourobóros as an Auroral Phenomenon
This article traces the spread and development of the motif of the ourobóros, or circular serpent, and proposes that it originated in descriptions of an intense aurora. The earliest artistic examplesExpand


Evidence in the auroral record for secular solar variability
The historial record of aurorae is continuous and usefully dense for at least the 2000 years. Revival of interest in the secular variability in solar activity motivates a review of the auroralExpand
Ezekiel and the Northern Lights: Biblical aurora seems plausible
Auroral specialists have suggested that in the Bible's Old Testament book of Ezekiel, the opening vision of a “storm cloud out of the north” depicts imagery inspired by a low-latitude auroral displayExpand
Ezekiel's vision: Visual evidence of Sterno‐Etrussia geomagnetic excursion?
In the Eos article,“Ezekiel and the Northern Lights: Biblical Aurora Seems Plausible” (16 April 2002), Siscoe et al. presented arguments showing that coronal auroras can occur at low latitudes underExpand
Historical eclipses and the earth's rotation
Analysis of various observations of solar eclipses reveals that over the past 2,500 years the average rate of lengthening of the day has been 1.7 milliseconds per century, significantly less than the tidal figure of 2.3. Expand
Knowledge of solar variability and its effects on the Earth is essential since the Sun affects almost every aspect of our lives. Direct observations of the Sun, usually of sun- spots, with someExpand
The Geographic Incidence of Aurora and Magnetic Disturbance, Northern Hemisphere
Fritz [see 7 of “References” at end of paper] in a famous memoir published in 1881 discussed the frequency and characteristics of aurora observed in the Northern Hemisphere during the years 1700 toExpand
Babylonian observational astronomy
  • A. Sachs
  • History
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • 1974
The cuneiform texts from ancient Assyria and Babylonia that are preserved offer direct evidence for systematic astronomical observation in two widely separated periods. From the first half of theExpand
A Note on the Auroral Frequency Charts by Fritz and Vestine
The auroral frequency charts compiled by FRITZ (1881) and VESTINE (1944), based on documentation of aurorae from AD 1700 to 1872 and that from AD 1700 to 1942, respectively, are examined in the lightExpand
Global geomagnetic field models for the past 3000 years: transient or permanent flux lobes?
Global predictions of radial magnetic field at the coremantle boundary (CMB), as well as inclination and declination anomalies at the Earth's surface, provide an unprecedented view of geomagnetic secular variations over the past 3000 years, and demonstrate a consistent evolution of the field with time. Expand
Abstract Early auroral observations from Europe and Asia, and catalogs of these observations, are described and discussed. Cautions to be aware of when using these data include the dating of theExpand