Long-term fluctuations in the Earth’s rotation: 700 BC to AD 1990

  title={Long-term fluctuations in the Earth’s rotation: 700 BC to AD 1990},
  author={Francis Richard Stephenson and Leslie V. Morrison and Fred T. Smith},
  journal={Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A: Physical and Engineering Sciences},
  pages={165 - 202}
Records of solar and lunar eclipses in the period 700 BC to AD 1600, originating from the ancient and medieval civilizations of Babylon, China, Europe and the Arab world, are amassed and critically appraised for their usefulness in answering questions about the long-term variability of the Earth’s rate of rotation. Results from previous analyses of lunar occupations in the period AD 1600-1955.5, and from high-precision data in AD 1955.5-1990, are included in the dataset considered in this paper… 

Figures from this paper

Historical Eclipses and Earth’s Rotation: 700 BC–AD 1600
For the whole of the pre-telescopic period, eclipse observations have proved to be by far the best data with which to determine changes in the Earth’s rate of rotation. These changes – on the scale
Measurement of the Earth's rotation: 720 BC to AD 2015
Measurements of the Earth’s rotation for the period 720 BC to AD 2015 set firm boundaries for future work on post-glacial rebound and core–mantle coupling which are invoked to explain the departures from tidal friction.
Ancient eclipses and long-term drifts in the Earth-Moon system
400 and 1800 recorded in parts of India that should have completely missed the subcontinent according to NASA simulations (Espenak, F. and Meeus, J., NASA/TP 2006–214141, 2011). We show that the
Variations in the Earth's clock error ΔT between AD 300 and 800 as deduced from observations of solar and lunar eclipses
Historical observations of solar and lunar eclipses provide the most effective method of tracing fluctuations in the Earth's rate of rotation in the pre-telescopic period. However, the temporal
How Reliable are Archaic Records of Large Solar Eclipses?
Observations of solar and lunar eclipses recorded in a variety of sources between around 700 B.C. and A.D. 1600 have proved of considerable value in studying changes in the Earth’s rate of rotation.
Critical remarks on the use of medieval eclipse records for the determination of long-term changes in the Earth's rotation
The use of some Arabic medieval solar and lunar eclipse records for the determination of secular changes in the Earth's rotation is critically reviewed. The published results derived from these data
We determine the observing sites for eclipses of large magnitude recorded in ancient Chinese chronicles from 200 BCE to 900 CE, by adopting the difference between terrestrial time and universal time,
The Eclipse of Theon and Earth's Rotation
The solar eclipse of AD 364 June 16 described by Theon of Alexandria in his commentary on Ptolemy’s Almagest has been used to study the secular acceleration of the Moon and the long-term changes in
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.


Application of Early Chinese Records of Lunar Occultations and Close Approaches
One of the ways in which the Earth’s rate of rotation in the last few thousand years may be investigated is by analyzing early observations of eclipses of both the Sun and the Moon. From the eighth
Fluctuations in the Earth's rotation since 1830 from high-resolution astronomical data
SUMMARY Fluctuations in the Earth's rotation since 1830, as evidenced by changes in the length of the day, are derived from astronomical data having subannual resolution. Before 1955.5, timings of
Secular variation of Earth's gravitational harmonic J2 coefficient from Lageos and nontidal acceleration of Earth rotation
Analysis of 5½ years of Lageos satellite range data reveal significant residual nodal signatures: an acceleration and annual and semiannual periods. These signatures primarily reflect variations in
An Examination of the Change in the Earth's Rotation Rate From Ancient Chinese Observations of Lunar Occultations of the Planets
Abstract : A study is made of fifty-eight records of naked eye observations of occultations of the planets by the Moon chosen from the Chinese dynastic histories. These records cover the period from
Precision of Medieval Islamic Eclipse Measurements
Many careful observations of lunar and solar eclipses are preserved in medieval Islamic astronomical handbooks (zljes). A typical record includes measurements (direct or indirect) of the local time
Records of solar eclipses in Arabic chronicles
Of the many astronomical observations which are recorded in ancient and medieval history, perhaps the most interesting and useful relate to solar eclipses. Obscurations of the Sun are often noticed
Babylonian observational astronomy
  • A. Sachs
  • Physics
    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 the
DE 102: a numerically integrated ephemeris of the moon and planets spanning forty-four centuries.
It is pointed out that the 1960's were the turning point for the generation of lunar and planetary ephemerides. All previous measurements of the positions of solar system bodies were optical angular