Sublime Eclipse Science for the Humanist

A lecture by ICE Fellow Anthony Aveni

In the aftermath of the great American eclipse of 2017, we explore the history and culture surrounding solar eclipses, recounting how people from diverse cultures employed both word and picture to express their reactions to the sudden interruption of the usual day-night experience. We walk the narrow pathway between the objective observational science and the awe of the sublime in witnessing nature’s most mysterious phenomenon. We conclude by exploring the recent discovery of a thousand-year-old Maya microtext painted on the wall of an abandoned building in the city of Xultun in the Central American rainforest, once used by ancient Maya astronomers to predict eclipses.