(For information on specific eclipses, see Eclipses of the Sun and Moon in Data Services.)
While there is vast literature on all aspects of eclipses of all kinds, most of it is contemporary, ephemeral, and often of limited circulation. One must have access to a major library, a persistent interest, and patience to investigate beyond a superficial survey. The use of an inter-library loan from a large university library may prove helpful. This reference list is intended to be representative of the eclipse literature; it is not intended to be complete.
Numerical Data from the U.S. Naval Observatory
The Astronomical Applications Department of the U. S. Naval Observatory and Her Majesty's Nautical Almanac Office of the U.K. Hydrographic Office jointly issue two annual publications that contain numerical data for the eclipses of a given year. The primary publication is The Astronomical Almanac, usually issued during the year preceding the year of the volume. Astronomical Phenomena is an inexpensive booklet containing a preprint of selected phenomena data from The Astronomical Almanac. Astronomical Phenomena is typically available several years before the year of the booklet. For further information, see Annual Astronomical and Navigational Almanacs in Publications.
The data in the above publications are predictive, showing where and when eclipses will occur and be observable.
The U. S. Naval Observatory's series of detailed eclipse Circulars was discontinued in 1991. However, in early 1993, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) initiated a series of special eclipse bulletins providing detailed predictions, including path maps and local circumstances, for individual eclipses.
General Descriptive References
Any good encyclopedia or college-level textbook on astronomy has at least a brief description of eclipses—what they are, why they occur, and why they are of interest. Astronomy magazines for the layman have frequent articles and columns on eclipses, both general and specific. Examples of these magazines are Sky & Telescope, Astronomy, and Griffith Observer. There are others, foreign and domestic, as well as the regular publications of astronomical societies. Less frequently, articles appear in magazines such as Scientific American and National Geographic.
Many books, at various levels of complexity, are available on the subject of eclipses. Comprehensive books include topics such as eclipse geometry, recent and upcoming eclipses, and how to observe and photograph eclipses.
The primary use of eclipse "canons" is for chronological and historical research, but they are also useful for long-term planning and prediction. This list provides a selection of comprehensive works.
Espenak, F. & Meeus, J. 2009, Five Millennium Catalog of Solar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000 (2000 BCE to 3000 CE) -- Revised, NASA/TP-2009-214174 (Greenbelt, MD: NASA)
This catalog is a supplement to the Canon of solar eclipses produced in 2006. It includes additional tabular information that could not be included in the solar eclipse Canon.
Espenak, F. & Meeus, J. 2009, Five Millennium Catalog of Lunar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000 (2000 BCE to 3000 CE), NASA/TP-2009-214173 (Greenbelt, MD: NASA)
This catalog is a supplement to the Canon of lunar eclipses produced in 2009. It includes additional tabular information that could not be included in the lunar eclipse Canon.
Espenak, F. & Meeus, J. 2009, Five Millennium Canon of Lunar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000 (2000 BCE to 3000 CE), NASA/TP-2009-214172 (Greenbelt, MD: NASA)
This long-interval canon contains information on lunar eclipse statistics and periodicity, in addition to providing a thumbnail diagram of each eclipse illustrating its global visibility. Calculations are based on modern ephemerides: ELP2000/82 for the Moon and VSOP87 for the Sun.
Espenak, F. & Meeus, J. 2006, Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000 (2000 BCE to 3000 CE), NASA/TP-2006-214141 (Greenbelt, MD: NASA)
This long-interval canon contains information on solar eclipse statistics and periodicity, in addition to providing a thumbnail diagram of each eclipse illustrating its global visibility. Calculations are based on modern ephemerides: ELP2000/82 for the Moon and VSOP87 for the Sun.
Liu, Bao-Lin & Fiala, A. 1992, Canon of Lunar Eclipses 1500 BC to AD 3000 (Richmond, VA: Willmann-Bell)
In addition to the canon itself, this book contains two detailed explanatory chapters on lunar eclipses and several unique tables giving frequency distributions. Eclipse visibility is determined by using the tabular data and base maps in conjunction with transparent overlays. Calculations are based on modern ephemerides: ELP2000-85 for the Moon and VSOP87 for the Sun.
Espenak, F. 1989, Fifty Year Canon of Lunar Eclipses: 1986-2035, NASA Reference Publication 1216 (Greenbelt, MD: NASA)
This is the companion volume to Espenak's solar eclipse canon described below. It is divided into 3 sections: a catalog of circumstances, small global maps showing areas of visibility, and world maps showing eclipse limits. Diagrams showing the progress of the Moon through the Earth's shadow are also provided for each eclipse.
Espenak, F. 1987, Fifty Year Canon of Solar Eclipses: 1986-2035, NASA Reference Publication 1178 Revised (Greenbelt, MD: NASA)
This limited, but readily available, canon is divided into four sections: a catalog of local circumstances at greatest eclipse, world maps showing central paths, tabular data for the path of each central eclipse, and a hemispherical map for each eclipse. This canon is based on Newcomb's Theory of the Sun and the Improved Lunar Ephemeris.
Meeus, J. & Mucke, J. 1983, Canon of Lunar Eclipses, -2002 to +2526 (2nd ed.; Wien: Astronomisches Buro)
This large volume contains elements of 10,936 lunar eclipses (including penumbral eclipses) in the form of a computer listing and small plotted charts. It is based on Newcomb's Theory of the Sun and the Improved Lunar Ephemeris.
Mucke, J. & Meeus, J. 1983, Canon of Solar Eclipses, -2003 to +2526 (Wien: Astronomisches Buro)
This large volume contains elements of 10,774 solar eclipses in the form of a computer listing and small plotted charts. It is based on Newcomb's Theory of the Sun and the Improved Lunar Ephemeris.
Oppolzer, T. von 1962, Canon of Eclipses (Canon der Finsternisse) (reprint; New York: Dover)
This is the classic reference, originally published in 1887. The Dover edition, translated by Owen Gingerich, is also out-of-print. The volume contains basic tabular data and instructions for calculation for all solar and lunar eclipses from 1207 BC to 2161 AD. A set of maps show approximate tracks of central line solar eclipses north of -30º latitude. The longitudes are increasingly in error, as the variation of the Earth's rotation was not known at the time. Other errors in the theories and tables are known as well.
Historical Canons for Limited Areas
Stephenson, F. & Houlden, M. 1985, Atlas of Historical Eclipse Maps: East Asia 1500 BC - AD 1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
This volume contains computer-generated maps and some tabular material for East Asian central solar eclipses which occurred during the time period specified in the title. Each map shows the path of the central phase of the eclipse and indicates the site of a major Chinese city, usually the capital at the time. The maps and data are based on a modified j=2 lunar ephemeris and are corrected for the long-term fluctuations in the Earth's rotation.
Kudlek, M & Mickler, E. 1971, Solar and Lunar Eclipses of the Ancient Near East from 3000 BC to 0, with Maps (Hamburg: Verlag Butzon & Bercker Kevelaer)
This work, apparently produced in a limited printing, will probably prove very difficult to obtain. Tables provide the local circumstances of the solar eclipses occurring during the specified time period, for 7 important Near East cities. The maps indicate the locations of the important cities and the central paths of the solar eclipses. The lunar eclipse data is tabular. Oppolzer's methods were used to perform the calculations.
Theory and Mathematical Treatment
Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac (Mill Valley, CA: University Science Books, 1992)
This book provides a detailed mathematical explanation of how the calculations in The Astronomical Almanac are performed. Chapter 8, which covers eclipses of the Sun and Moon, is a completely revised and rewritten version of the material contained in the 1961 Explanatory Supplement. A description and ordering information is given in Publications.
Green, R. 1985, Spherical Astronomy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
Chapter 18 of this book contains an up-to-date vector/matrix treatment of the basic eclipse calculations based on Bessel's formulation. It is somewhat limited in its scope, but very useful.
Link, F. 1969, Eclipse Phenomena (New York: Springer-Verlag)
This small volume contains a wealth of information on lunar eclipses and transits of the inferior planets which is available almost nowhere else. It is concerned primarily with physical and atmospheric effects of the eclipsing body, but also includes computational and historical information. In addition, it treats eclipse and occultation effects involving other planets, natural and artificial satellites, radio observations, and relativistic effects.
Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Ephemeris and the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1961)
This volume contains the mathematical methods and theories once used in the production of the national almanacs. It is now out of print and somewhat out of date. Chapter 9 treats solar eclipses, lunar eclipses, and transits of Mercury and Venus.
Chauvenet, W. 1960, A Manual of Spherical and Practical Astronomy (reprint; New York: Dover)
This classic work, originally published in two volumes in 1868, uses and expands upon Bessel's methods for calculating eclipses. For the most part, it forms the basis for the material in the Explanatory Supplement. Volume 1, Chapter X treats solar and lunar eclipses and transits.