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Imagine. You are an ancient human and your reliable and faithful sun suddenly and unexpectedly goes dark. This terrifies you. You think, 'What if it never comes back? Oh gods, WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO DESER...oh, it's back. Phew.' But then, over the years, it keeps happening. You begin to lose trust in the sun's loyalty and start recording when these events happen. Centuries go by and eventually enough of a pattern has built up that early civilizations are able to predict when these crazy events might occur. “The idea that it's not just random is pretty incredible,” says Jonathan Seitz, an associate professor of history at Drexel. “The Mesopotamians figured it out first in part because they had a habit of writing things down. They were doing this because they felt that these things had meaning—they weren't just random natural phenomena.” With records stretching back to about 700 BC, Mesopotamians were able to determine the length of a Saros Cycle—the interval between when the Moon, Earth, and Sun line up for an eclipse.

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