The Total Solar Eclipse of July 29th, 1878

  • Article
  • 13 pages
  • Level: high school and above

This article by J. M. Degni, S. J. from the 1878 American Catholic Quarterly Review provides an interesting look at a scientific article in a nineteenth-century Catholic periodical. “The Total Solar Eclipse” follows articles on the position of the Blessed Virgin in Catholic theology, Sir Thomas More, Catholic poetry, and Pope Sixtus V, among others. It features significant discussion of topics in astronomy such as spectroscopy and the work of Fr. Angelo Secchi. It also features a table of numerical data on temperature and humidity during the eclipse, and a full-page sketch of the eclipse made by Fr. Benedict Sestini. This sketch is also on the cover of the magazine. Degni concludes, “Many minor details, revealed by the spectroscope, the polariscope, and other instruments of observation, we must omit for brevity’s sake…. we must patiently await the full examination and comparison of the various observations taken on the 29th before the truth can be reached on this and many other points open to discussion. Meanwhile, we confidently assert that the observations made on the late eclipse will be found to have materially augmented our knowledge regarding the central orb of the solar system.”

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