About 400 years before the birth of Christ, near Mt. Lyscabettus in ancient Greece, the pale orb of the sun rose through the mists. According to habit, Meton recorded the sun's location on the horizon. In this era when much remained to be discovered, Meton hoped to find predictable changes in the locations of sunrise and moonrise. Although rainy weather had limited his recent observations, this foggy morning he discerned specks on the face of the sun, the culmination of many such blemishes in recent years. On a hunch, Meton began examining his more than 20 years of solar records. These seemed to confirm his belief: when the sun has spots, the weather tends to be wetter and rainier.
Theophrastus reported these findings in the fourth century B.C. Other ancient accounts concerning the sun and weather are vague. If one stretches one's imagination, some comments by Aratus of Soli, Virgil, and Pliny the Elder may touch on this subject. What happened to the original records used by Theophrastus? Perhaps these and related scientific data were burned in the fire that destroyed the Library at Alexandria around A.D. 300. Other possible ancient accounts have vanished.
Two thousand years passed. The Roman Empire rose and fell, the Dark Ages lasted a thousand years, and Europe entered the Renaissance. The 1600s reveal perhaps half a dozen scattered references to changes in the sun and their effect on weather. After a few more references in the 1700s, scientific interest in the sun waned. Following Sir William Herschel's comments on sunspots and climate in 1796 and 1801, about 10 scientific papers touched on the sun's influence on climate and weather. The next two decades contain about 10 or so references to this topic. Shortly after a paper by C. Piazzi Smyth appeared in the proceedings of the Royal Society in 1870, the field exploded. This paper stimulated scientists such as Sir Norman Lockyer, Ferguson, Meldrum, and others to think about solar and terrestrial changes. Meldrum, a British meteorolo
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Publication information: Book title: The Role of the Sun in Climate Change. Contributors: Douglas V. Hoyt - Author, Kenneth H. Schatten - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 3.
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