A day of total luna-see: * Records of eclipses can be found in the ancient histories of Babylon, East Asia, Europe and Arabia.
* The oldest report of a total eclipse is dated July 17, 709BC.
* A vivid account of a total eclipse dates from Jun 25, AD15. This notes:
"The sky and earth were in darkness. People could not be distinguished within a foot. The chickens and ducks returned to roost."
* Ancient observations reveal that since 700BC the length of the day has increased by about a twentieth of a second. Such ancient observations play a significant role in contemporary geophysics.
Richard Stephenson, professorial fellow in physics, Durham University.