9 Historical Mysteries Solved by Astronomy


Throughout history there have been strange moments that have happened that have been ensconced in mystery since they were first spoken of in hushed stories passed down from generation to generation. Did the first marathon runner really drop dead? Could Mary Shelley’s griping origin story for Frankenstein actually be true? While we may scoff at some of these, the truth is, their answers often lay in the stars.

No, really.

For example, when addressing why Paul Revere wasn’t spotted at all during his midnight ride, i09 explains:

Well, it is true that a bright moon rose as Revere made his crossing on April 18, 1775. But it was a very unusual moon. According to calculating, the moon was in the southern extreme of its orbit that night, rising to the south of east instead of due east. Thanks to that little bit of luck, Revere was much harder to spot than he might have been otherwise.

So there you have it. By simply referencing what cycle the moon was in that night and what was peculiar about it, we get answers to lifelong questions. Funny, some people say an answer is always right in front of you. In this case, it is miles above you.

[Image via Salon, story via i09]