Solar eclipse of the Archives, 1806

With a Middlebury College Observatory Open House Night scheduled for this Friday, April 29th from 9:00 pm-10:30 pm, we’re looking to the stars and sharing more astronomical history from the archives.

On June 16, 1806 a total eclipse of the sun cast a shadow across much of the northeastern United States, including the town of Mansfield, Connecticut. Known as “Tecumseh’s Eclipse” for the role it played in the Shawnee chief’s efforts to form a tribal confederacy, this astronomical event would have been visible to sixteen-year-old Mansfield native Samuel Mosely. Mosely went on to study at Middlebury College where in 1817, he made an annotated drawing of the eclipse with detailed notes on its timing and geometry:

Illustration of the June 16, 1806 total solar eclipse by Samuel Mosely, Class of 1818. Dated May 28, 1817.
Illustration of the June 16, 1806 total solar eclipse by Samuel Mosely, Class of 1818. Dated May 28, 1817.

After graduating in 1818, Mosely, like many early Middlebury graduates, became a missionary. He died in 1834 while working among the Choctaw Indians in Mississippi.

 

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