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Science before SocratesParmenides, Anaxagoras, and the New Astronomy$
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Daniel Graham

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199959785

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199959785.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 25 November 2020

Darkened Suns and Falling Stars

Darkened Suns and Falling Stars

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(p.137) Chapter 5 Darkened Suns and Falling Stars
Science before Socrates

Daniel W. Graham

Oxford University Press

Who first developed the new theory of the heavens? Anaxagoras and Empedocles were rough contemporaries, and both held the theory. There is evidence that Anaxagoras observed the solar eclipse of 478 BC, and used it to calculate the diameter of the moon. Empedocles, from Sicily, could not have seen the eclipse and was probably too young to study it. It was reported that Anaxagoras predicted a meteor ca. 467. Plutarch plausibly explains that Anaxagoras’ theory predicted the possibility of a stone falling from the sky. The meteorite that fell at Aegospotami was immediately associated with Anaxagoras’ name. The meteor’s association with a comet suggests the possibility that it fell at the time of an appearance of Halley’s Comet in summer 466. Other synchronisms attest the activity of Anaxagoras before 460. Empedocles was not associated with any astronomical events, and many ancient sources attribute the discovery of antiphraxis to Anaxagoras alone.

Keywords:   eclipse, meteor, Anaxagoras, Halley’s Comet, prediction

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