Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Alaskan "Sky Magic" For Western Wednesday...!

It's true that this entry doesn't seem like the standard fare for Western Wednesday, but it does have some Native Americans , so I reckon it qualifies.

You can imagine the effects of something like this on still primitive folks back in 1869. Got their attention, I'll bet!

Astronomer impresses Indians with eclipse

George Davidson, a prominent astronomer and explorer, impresses Alaskan Native Americans with his ability to predict a total solar eclipse.

A native of Nottingham, England, Davidson immigrated to the United States in 1832. He went to school in Philadelphia, where he proved to be a brilliant student and eventually earned a doctorate in astronomy. In 1845, he joined the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, and for two decades, he studied the large-scale geography of California, Oregon, and Washington.

In 1867, Davidson traveled north to the still relatively unexplored territory of Alaska. The United States government was in the midst of concluding negotiations to purchase the area from Russia, and American leaders were eager to learn more about the new territory. Davidson made initial surveys at Sitka, Chilkat, Kodiak, and the Unalaksa Islands. Much work remained to be done, though, and Davidson planned to return to the territory two years later.

In 1869, Davidson began preparations for another scientific trip, to the Chilkat Valley. He was warned, however, that the Chilkat Indians had been angered by some American provocation and might welcome him with guns and spears rather than open arms. Undaunted, Davidson proceeded with his mission. His initial meeting with the Chilkat on August 6 was tense. Davidson explained that he had come for purely scientific reasons, and he meant them no harm. He told the Chilkat that he was especially anxious to observe a total eclipse of the sun that he predicted would occur the following day. The Indians scoffed at Davidson's prediction, but they left the party in peace for the time being.

On this day in 1869, the sky grew dark over the Chilkat Valley as the moon eclipsed the sun, as Davidson had predicted. Apparently dismayed by this frightening display of power--some may have believed Davidson actually caused the eclipse rather than merely predicting it--the Chilkat fled to the woods. Thereafter, they left Davidson and his party alone, leading one historian to speculate that the astronomer's prediction may have saved the entire team from attack.

Davidson continued to be a prominent member of the scientific community until his death in 1911. Several geographic features in Alaska were named in his honor.

Once again, it appears that science saved the day! Still, you can bet the locals were impressed either way!

Coffee in the kitchen again. It's kinda stormy here in Houston.


Anonymous said...

To have knowledge is to have power.

Have a great day!

Mamahen said...

I would like to have seen the reaction of the in great....any cake left from yesterday ?

Chickenmom said...

He must have carried the Farmer's Almanac with him - would be lost without that little yellow book! Lost power again for a bit last night during the thunder storms. So many of them lately.

texasann said...

Bubba -
I haven't seen an eclipse in so long! Seems like the southern US is not in the right place, and even lunars are in the wrong time frame for this earlybird. Would love to see Alaska aomeday, though...
Big hugs -

linda m said...

I can just picture the faces on the "natives" when his prediction came true. They must have thought he was some kind of god. Coffee inside is fine with me.

JO said...

Great post. I also would love to see Alaska someday.

Kitchen is fine with me plenty of rain here too.

HermitJim said...

Hey Christer...
More true back then than now, I think.

Thanks for coming over this morning!

Hey Mamahen...
I reckon they had a rough time sleeping after seeing that! Must have been scary for most of them.

Thanks for stopping by this morning!

Hey Phyllis...
Would have been a handy thing to have, I'm sure!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Sis...
Maybe you and the hubby should take one of those cruises that go when an eclipse is coming. Might be fun!

Thanks for dropping by, Sis!

Hey Linda M...
Might have saved his hide as well. Never hurts to have some cards up the sleeve, so to speak.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Jo...
I'm glad you enjoyed it. Alaska would be fun to visit at the right time of the year!

Thanks, sweetie, for stopping by today!