I'm kind of excited about observing the eclipse tonight. I've been compiling my cold-weather gear in preperation to endure the -40 temperature that we'll likely see if the sky is clear enough to see it. It will be the first time since 1638 that an eclipse will have occurred on the Winter Solstice (as confirmed with my Starry Night software). We will also be able to see the Ursid and Genimid meteor showers made apparently brighter by the darkening of the moon. The Ursid shower is much smaller than the Geminid shower with only around 12 entries per hour versus the Geminids 120 (two a minute!).
Being a history buff I also dug out my "The Timetables of History" by Bernard Grunn to see what was happening when last the earth saw this type of even. In the classical sense what type of omen are we looking at? This is what I came across.
(Not for the faint of heart).
It was what historians Hobsbawm and Trevor-Roper described as "The General Crisis".
The Collapse of the Ming Dynasty. Ostensibly the high point of pre-modern China. The pendulum swung from the "East" to the "West".
A continuation and escalation of the Thirty Years War which saw between 15-30% of Germany killed off due to war, famine and plague. Casualty estimates for this affair run as high as 11.5 million.
The beginning of the English Civil War which brought us the first version of the "Tea Party" and everyones favorite Oliver Cromwell into power.
I'm lazy today and I'm using wikipedia exclusively in my citation, but don't let that discourage you from knowing that depsite the weak referencing that
THE END IS NEAR
or at least nearer than it was a minute ago
Saying all of that I still find it slightly disconcerting to see how many similarities there are between then and now, in politics and economics. The wikipedia article that sums up the "General Crisis" is of course here.