King Rama IV, Sir Harry Ord and the total solar eclipse of 18 August 1868: power, politics and astronomy

Article


Orchiston, Wayne and Orchiston, Darunee Lingling. 2021. "King Rama IV, Sir Harry Ord and the total solar eclipse of 18 August 1868: power, politics and astronomy." Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage. 24 (2), pp. 389-404.
Article Title

King Rama IV, Sir Harry Ord and the total solar eclipse of 18 August 1868: power, politics and astronomy

ERA Journal ID30599
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsOrchiston, Wayne (Author) and Orchiston, Darunee Lingling (Author)
Journal TitleJournal of Astronomical History and Heritage
Journal Citation24 (2), pp. 389-404
Number of Pages16
Year2021
Place of PublicationThailand
ISSN1440-2807
Web Address (URL)https://www.rtu.edu.ph/card/volume-24/
Abstract

The August 1868 total solar eclipse was a watershed event in astronomical history and through spectroscopic and photographic analyses led to major breakthroughs in solar physics. This eclipse was observed from Aden, India, Siam and the Dutch East Indies. Apart from the scientific accomplishments, this eclipse also played an important diplomatic role in Siam, where the English and the French had colonial aspirations. Sir Harry Ord was the Governor of the British Straits Settlements, based in Singapore. In this paper we look at his involvement in King Rama IV’s eclipse campaign, and the way in which his presence was part of the King’s tactic to counter French and British colonial aspirations. We also see that King Rama IV used the 1868 eclipse as a vehicle to show the Thai people the superiority of Western scientific astronomy over traditional Siamese astrology.

Keywords18 August 1868 solar eclipse, Siam, Wha-koa, King Rama IV, Sir Harry Ord, power, politics, colonialism
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020510199. Astronomical sciences not elsewhere classified
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Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Byline AffiliationsCentre for Astrophysics
No affiliation
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