Astrophysicist David Dearborn notes, "In many ways it makes sense that eclipses would be seen as bad omens. For most early cultures, the sun was seen as a life-giver, something that was there every day, so something that blots out the sun was a terribly bad event, filled with foreboding.
…a recurring and pervasive embodiment of the eclipse was a dragon,
or a demon, who devours the sun.
The ancient Chinese would produce great noise and commotion during an eclipse, banging on pots and drums to frighten away the dragon. The Incas, too, tried to intimidate the creatures who were eating the sun. In India they took a different tack — people would immerse themselves up to the neck in water, an act of worship they believed helped the sun fight off the dragon.”
For a look at some literary reactions to eclipses,
and a look at the feelings of modern scientists themselves
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