Columbus and the Lunar Eclipse
Christopher Columbus on another journey to the new land of Jamaica and found himself surrounded by hostile Indians in February 1504; he was short of supplies and wanted to repair his ships to return home.
He knew that on February 29th 1504 there would be an eclipse of the Moon, three days beforehand he told the Indian chiefs that unless he was given supplies something very strange would happen to the Moon.
On the evening of the February 29th Columbus waited for the Moon to appear in the sky and sure enough the eclipse started shortly afterwards. The Moon started turning a coppery red colour as it entered the shadow of the Earth. The Indians were terrified that someone who knew that something so terrible could happen to the Moon that he must be a ‘god’.
They pleaded with him to return the Moon he told them all in good time and waited for the eclipse to end. Naturally he was given all the supplies he wanted and safely returned home.
It’s amazing how astronomical knowledge can come in very useful in the strangest of situations!