The title may seem a bit weird but it’s completely true: Christopher Columbus once used a lunar eclipse to save himself and the people of his crew from starvation. Here’s the incredibly interesting story.
On June 25, 1503, Christopher Columbus was on the coast of the island, which would later be called Jamaica. The indigenous people of the island, the Arawak Indians, originally welcomed and cared for the castaways by offering food and shelter. However, things soon started to change. Six months after arriving on the island, some of Columbu’s men started to rob and murder the Arawaks which themselves stopped providing the precious fish, cassava and corn to the crew.
Faced with starvation, Columbus though of a genius idea to save the party. (the article continues after the ad)
He consulted a book by the German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Myller von Kennigsberg and saw that a total moon eclipse would take place on February 29, 1504. Three days before the eclipse, the explorer asked for a hearing from the leader of the Arawaks and warned him that his God was outraged by the attitude of the natives and that in three days he would make the moon disappear from the sky.
And so it happened. As explained by Christopher Columbus’ son, Ferdinand, when the elcipse began, the Arawaks “ran on the ships carrying supplies and asking for Columbus to interfere and talk to his God in order for the moon to return.”
Columbus told them that he had to discuss the matter with God in private and in the silence of his cabin. During the 48 minutes that he was waiting alone in the room, Columbus used a hourglass to time the eclipse phases. At just the right time, shortly before the eclipse was about to end, Columbus came out of the cabin and announced that God had shown mercy.
Of course, the moon returned and from that time on, Columbus had no problem getting the supplies he wanted. A few months later they left the islands and returned to Spain on November 7, 1504.
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: When Did Christopher Columbus Realise That America Was Not The Indies?
Photo: Wikimedia, Wikimedia
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: How a Total Lunar Eclipse Saved Christopher Columbus | The Eclipse That Saved Columbus