First impressions of the Thousand Year Canon of Solar Eclipses

These are my reactions to receiving this new canon.

I ordered this book immediately after I found it on Amazon last Sunday night. It arrived to me on Wednesday. Considering that this book was actually printed on demand to my order, that's a remarkable turn-around. Even though I missed out on the discount that Fred announced for attendees of the SEC2014, I'm still very glad to have this two months in advance.

The quality of the book is excellent. You cannot discern that it was printed on demand compared to traditional press run publishing.

The book begins with a 50 page section on eclipse fundamentals, the computational basis of the canon, frequency and distribution of eclipses, and a thorough explanation of the tabular columns in the canon and how to read the eclipse maps. Although I am reasonably well-versed on eclipse fundamentals, there is new explanatory content that I was not fully familiar with. For example, there is an interesting discussion of quincena combinations of eclipses that helps clarify the succession of eclipse types. This first section is tight and full of facts; much of this content is reminiscent of the Mathematical Morsels by Jean Meeus but this is not a regurgitation of the MM content; instead this is fresh analysis on the distribution and frequency of eclipses. These distributions are highlighted with a number of tables of eclipses within the thousand year range of this canon.

Pages 53 to 92 is a tabular listing of the essential characteristics of each of the 2,389 solar eclipses from 1501 to 2500; date, time, delta-t, series numbers, eclipse type, gamma, magnitude, lat-long of GE, sun azimuth and altitude at GE, path width, maximum duration, and an interesting characteristic I've never before seen in a canon: QLE.

QLE, or the Quincena Lunar Eclipse Parameter, describes the relationship of the pairings of lunar eclipses and solar eclipses. A short text string identifies whether a lunar eclipse precedes or occurs after the given solar eclipse, along with the type of lunar eclipse (penumbral, partial, or total).

Pages 95 to 294 comprise the bulk of the book and map each of the 2,389 eclipses. There are 12 maps on each page, but because the print quality is very good, they are very legible. There is a color code to the eclipse lines; green for sunset/sunrise lines and penumbral limits, blue for isomagnitudes of 0.25, 0.5, and 0.75, red for annular eclipse limits, and blue for total eclipse limits. I checked the central limit lines for hybrid eclipses and indeed, the cross-over point from annular to total is marked by a transition from blue to red, a very nice touch that is rarely visible on eclipse maps.

The most useful aspect of this book is how handy it is. I have several old canons on my bookshelf that I rarely consult. This new canon is compact and I've kept it within reach instead of filing it on my bookshelf. It's very convenient to pick up and look over historic and future eclipses.

The utility of this canon is like the old saying about telescopes: the best telescope is not necessarily the largest, but the one you use most. So it is with this canon.

The book can be ordered here: