Solar eclipses – myth and science

Solar eclipse 1999

MKcray (own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

For Central Europe, the total solar eclipse on 11 August 1999 was the main astronomical event of the century. Viewed from Switzerland, the moon only partially masked the sun. With 92 to 98 per cent covered, however, the event was nonetheless remarkable. 

To mark the occasion, documents from the holdings of the Rare Books Collection, the Image Archive and the ETH Zurich University Archives bearing witness to age-old interest in solar eclipses among experts and amateur astronomers were showcased in an exhibition. It offered an insight into the interpretation and representation of solar eclipses, as well as the astronomical foundations and prediction of the phenomenon. The scientific importance of solar eclipses was also examined – always from a historical perspective. Sections of the exhibition are presented in digital form on this website. 

We owe the majority of the exhibits to the specific and remarkable collecting activities of Rudolf Wolf, the first professor of astronomy and librarian at the Federal Polytechnic School and the first director of the Eidgenössische Sternwarte in Zurich.

ETH-Bibliothek's exhibition from 11 July to 30 September 1999 at ETH Zurich

Revised, updated version of the virtual exhibitionReal exhibition

Dr. Flavia Lanini
Subject specialist for mathematics

Maximilliane Okonnek
Web and Digital Media

Kathrin Reith
Web and Digital Media

Original virtual exhibition
Dr. Flavia Lanini
Subject specialist for mathematics

Pierina Hunziker
previously ETH-Bibliothek

Dr. Flavia Lanini
Subject specialist for mathematics

Verena Larcher
previously ETH-Bibliothek