By combining written texts, folklore, and astronomical calculations, a team of researchers at Nagoya University or college, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and Otaru University of Commerce determined, examined, and analyzed particular records for three historical eclipses.
The texts included the particular writings of Tokunai Mogami (1755– 1836), one of the most notable Shogunate explorers for Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Island destinations, the islands found between The japanese and Russia.
For researching past astronomical events, folklore and historical texts are underused causes of information. Although often coloured by fanciful descriptions or maybe the limited science of the day, oral and written records can nonetheless serve as jumping-off factors for astronomical investigations of phenomena such as solar eclipses.
In Japan’s northernmost major island, Hokkaido, such historical records are usually rare, but important. When compared with Japan’s main island associated with Honshu, historical sources in Hokkaido are less typical because few Japanese individuals called it home and the Indigenous Ainu rarely wrote about the dates of specific events before the Meiji Period. The few existing written accounts of astronomical events, however , provide a useful jumping-off point for scientific analysis. Combining local historical and cultural knowledge with contemporary scientific techniques offers the potential for fascinating new discoveries.
Hisashi Hayakawa of the Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research (ISEE) and the Company for Advanced Research (IAR) at Nagoya University, in collaboration with Mitsuru Sô ma of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan plus Ryuma Daigo of the Otaru University of Commerce, examined three historical writings and sketches to see if they might use modern research methods to recognize the actual astronomical events described.
For their research in the Magazines of the Astronomical Society associated with Japan , they examined the written documents after which computed the relative placements of the sun and celestial satellite, as people would have noticed them from various sites in Hokkaido.
The first of these accounts had been from a correspondence by John Batchelor (1855– 1944), an Anglican missionary to the Ainu people who also published a number of works on their culture and beliefs. Some of these writings integrated ancestral Ainu folklore associated with a total solar eclipse, explaining the eclipse as having “ tongues of open fire and lightning from its sides” and coming from a “ lifeless black sun. ”
By comparing these types of past accounts with personal computer simulations of positions of the sun and moon, the particular team found that the over shadow account perfectly matched an overall total solar eclipse. The colorful description of a “ dark dead sun” may have been the description of the eclipsed sun. Similarly, “ tongues associated with fire and lightning” appeared to describe solar coronal streamers, bursts of light from around the blocking moon. These types of findings show the value of assessing folklore, some of which may be depending on fact.
“ In collections of Ainu folklore, Batchelor’s account of the total sun eclipse had been unique, ” Hayakawa explained. “ However , there was no explicit date for the event, which makes it challenging to discuss academically. Fortunately, Batchelor’s writing included hints about this eclipse, such as its darkness, animal reactions, and other unique characteristics. He or she even included a tough chronological marker, stating ‘ when my father was a kid he heard his aged grandfather say that his grandfather saw a total eclipse from the sun. ‘ These hints allowed us to reproduce the visibility of sun eclipses in the Horobetsu and Moto Muroran areas of Hokkaido, where Batchelor collected this particular folklore. During these periods, sunlight was extremely inactive, something that was not previously known. This shows that the Ainu folk traditions provides important clues in regards to the extremity of the solar-terrestrial environment. ”
The researchers also examined the accounts of the geographer and explorer Tokunai Mogami. In 1786, Mogami reported the account of a local retailer, Denkichi Abeya, which is known as the earliest datable report for the solar eclipse observed in Hokkaido. This travel account had been associated with an annular over shadow, in which the moon covers the sun’s center and surrounds it with a halo of light. However , Hayakawa great team found that this differed slightly from reality. Actually Mogami seemed to describe a deep partial solar over shadow out of the path of a crossbreed eclipse, a rare event that includes both an annular and total eclipse. Abeya only saw it as a deep partial solar eclipse, because he viewed it from about the Mitsuishi region in southern Hokkaido, which was out of the annularity-totality path.
“ Our calculations revealed that an observer at Mitsuishi could see this eclipse, not as an annular eclipse but only as a part solar eclipse, ” Hayakawa said. “ Interestingly, the Ryukyu Kingdom (modern Okinawa) also witnessed the same over shadow as a deep partial sun eclipse. Therefore , this is probably the earliest known record collection for quasi-simultaneous eclipse findings in Hokkaido, the northernmost part of Japan, and Okinawa, the southernmost part. ”
Finally, the particular researchers also used the diary of Kan’ichiro Mozume (1840– 1877), which included paintings dating from 1872. Mozume was a local teacher plus intellectual. His sketches display four phases of the sun eclipse. The researchers linked Mozume’s sketches with an annular eclipse in June 1872, for which there are no recognized eclipse reports. According to astronomical calculations, it would have been noticeable in Otaru, a city in Western Hokkaido.
“ We have located the earliest eclipse sketch associated with Hokkaido Island inTenkai Nikki(Mozume Kan’ichiro’s diary), ” explained Hayakawa. “ Mozume remaining four eclipse sketches in the diary and visually captured the annular over shadow in 1872. His description was in line with our astronomical calculation. This particular allowed us to locate the eclipse of the sketch plus confirm its reliability. We all found he left an important reference on the early history of Otaru, Hokkaido. ”
This study is really a prime example of how astronomy and historical research can intersect. “ Astronomical calculations with all the latest parameters have individually confirmed historical documents and folklore from the 18thand 19thcenturies. Our research has also filled up the geographical gaps within eclipse observations in Japan, ” says Hayakawa. “ Further research on the folk traditions eclipse accounts could be associated with future scientific interest, as well. ”