What Do You Know About How People Reacted to Eclipses Through History?

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Mar 29, 2024

Eclipses, both lunar and solar, have been sources of awe, fear, curiosity, and inspiration across different cultures and eras. From ancient times to modern-day science, these celestial events have shaped myths, religions, and scientific understanding.

In this quiz, you’ll test your knowledge of historical interpretations, reactions, and the impact of eclipses on human civilization. Are you ready to uncover how our ancestors and contemporaries viewed and responded to the mysterious obscuring of the sun or moon? Let’s head into the shadows and lights of history to discover the enduring legacy of eclipses in human culture.

What is the oldest recorded eclipse in human history?

  • A) 1226 B.C.E. China
  • B) July 11, 1097, New Mexico
  • C) Nov. 30, 3340 B.C.E., Ireland
  • D) April 3, 33 C.E., Jerusalem
Advertisement
Crop man taking notes in copybook in dark home office

Source: Dziana Hasanbekava/Pexels

Answer:

C) Nov. 30, 3340 B.C.E., Ireland

Advertisement
Trim Castle in County Meath, Ireland, at sunrise

Source: Wikipedia

How did ancient Chinese scribes describe eclipses?

  • A) “The Moon is reborn.”
  • B) “The Sun has been eaten.”
  • C) “The sky is broken.”
  • D) “The stars are misaligned.”
Advertisement
Map of China and surrounding countries with a red push pin

Source: Freepik

Answer:

B) “The Sun has been eaten.”

Advertisement
A portion of the Great Wall of China in Badaling, China. Rolling green hills surround the wall.

CEphoto, Uwe Aranas/Wikimedia Commons

In which religious text is a solar eclipse mentioned in relation to Mohammed's life?

  • A) The Bible
  • B) The Quran
  • C) The Torah
  • D) The Bhagavad Gita
Advertisement
Photograph of the Bible opened to the Book of Psalms

Source: Pexels

Advertisement

Answer:

B) The Quran

Advertisement
An open Quran

Source: Mustafa-trit20/Wikimedia Commons

Advertisement

What did the Maya use to document astronomical events, including eclipses?

  • A) Oracle bones
  • B) Stone tablets
  • C) Codices
  • D) Petroglyphs
Advertisement
A photograph taken of the stars at night with a tree off to the side

Source: Wikimedia

Advertisement

Answer:

C) Codices

Advertisement
Devil codex Gigas (codices)

Source: Kungl/Wikimedia Commons

Advertisement

Which celestial event did Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity get validated by?

  • A) A lunar eclipse
  • B) A meteor shower
  • C) A solar eclipse
  • D) The appearance of a comet
Advertisement
Black-and-white photo of Albert Einstein in a suit as an old man receiving an honorary degree.

Source: janeb13/Wikimedia Commons

Advertisement

Answer:

C) A solar eclipse

Advertisement
Physicist Albert Einstein teaching in front of a chalkboard filled with mathematical calculations

Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Advertisement

How often was the 2017 total solar eclipse visible in the contiguous U.S. before its occurrence?

  • A) 28 years
  • B) 38 years
  • C) 48 years
  • D) 58 years
Advertisement
solar eclipse

Source: Nblahmd/Wikimedia Commons

Advertisement

Answer:

B) 38 years

Advertisement
An open Calendar book.

Source: Eric Rothermel

Advertisement

According to the London Evening Post, what extreme reaction did a woman have to the 1748 solar eclipse?

  • A) She threw a festival.
  • B) She locked herself up and cut her arm.
  • C) She climbed the highest tower to get closer.
  • D) She wrote a poem.
Advertisement
solar eclipse

Source: Michael Sprague/Wikimedia Commons

Advertisement

Answer:

B) She locked herself up and cut her arm.

Advertisement
View of a jail cell interior with a stainless steel toilet, white plastic chair, and a bunk bed with a white pillow and a chess set on the lower bed

Source: RDNE Stock Project/Pexels

Advertisement

What did the Vikings believe caused eclipses?

  • A) Dragons eating the Sun
  • B) The Sun hiding in shame
  • C) Two wolves chasing the sun and moon
  • D) A giant covering the Sun with his shield
Advertisement

Source: Nation.Cymru

Advertisement

Answer:

C) Two wolves chasing the sun and moon

Advertisement
Viking ship illustration

Source: Sci.News

Advertisement

What unique belief did Indigenous Australians hold about the cause of an eclipse?

  • A) A distant tribe on the moon was angry.
  • B) A great serpent swallowed the Sun.
  • C) The Sun and Moon were marrying.
  • D) The stars were rearranging themselves.
Advertisement
Solar Eclipse Nearing Totality

Source: Yampupata/Wikimedia Commons

Advertisement

Answer:

A) A distant tribe on the moon was angry.

Advertisement
An image of a bright yellow full moon in the night sky

Source: Wikimedia

Advertisement

How did the ancient Babylonians protect their royalty from the perceived threat of an eclipse?

  • A) By hiding them in secret chambers
  • B) By placing a commoner on the throne
  • C) By conducting special rituals
  • D) By sending them out to sea
Advertisement
An image of space which shows a giant planet below a bright star

Source: Freepik

Advertisement

Answer:

B) By placing a commoner on the throne

Advertisement
A bright explosive-like light with a glowing blue orb hovering in space to the top left of it.

Source: NOIRLab, M. Zamani/Wikimedia Commons

Advertisement

What was the unusual public reaction in Europe to the solar eclipse in 1230?

  • A) Panic and chaos
  • B) Public celebrations
  • C) People went back to bed
  • D) A surge in religious conversions
Advertisement
A faint image of the Milky Way in a blue night sky

Source: Pixabay/Pexels

Advertisement

Answer:

C) People went back to bed

Advertisement
A bed with white linens and a window in the background

Source: Kristin Vogt/Pexels

Advertisement

What is documented to have ended due to an eclipse in Turkey in 585 B.C.?

  • A) A festival
  • B) A reign of a king
  • C) 15 years of war
  • D) A period of famine
Advertisement
A very starry night sky over mountains and a body of water at night.

Source: Štefan Štefančík/Unsplash

Advertisement

Answer:

C) 15 years of war

Advertisement
Digital illustration of Viking warships from the Middle Ages

Source: Adobe Stock

Advertisement

How did Christopher Columbus use an eclipse to his advantage?

  • A) By predicting weather changes
  • B) By navigating the sea
  • C) By subjugating native Jamaicans
  • D) By discovering new land
Advertisement
Painting of explorer Christopher Columbus

Source: Alamy

Advertisement

Answer:

C) By subjugating native Jamaicans

Advertisement
A painting of Christopher Columbus and his men arriving in San Salvador. Columbus is kneeling and holding a flag and has a sword drawn. Three large ships are visible in the background.

Source: Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

Advertisement

Who used a balloon to watch an eclipse from over 2 miles high in the air?

  • A) Albert Einstein
  • B) John Couch Adams
  • C) Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev
  • D) Arthur Eddington
Advertisement
Blue Orange and Yellow Hot Hair Balloon

Source: Pixabay/Pexels

Advertisement

Answer:

C) Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev

Advertisement
Portrait of Dmitri Mendeleev

Source: Wikipedia

Advertisement

When will the next total solar eclipse be visible in the United States?

  • A) 2024
  • B) 2026
  • C) 2029
  • D) 2030
Advertisement
A man dressed in a suit is confused as he checks the time

Source: Freepik

Advertisement

Answer:

A) 2024

Advertisement
An image of our Sun.

Source: NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Advertisement