Viewing a solar eclipse is one of the most magnificent of natural phenomenons. Throughout history solar eclipses have almost always accompanied events of great magnitude. Were these events divine omens that were to signal the end of the world? What is this phenomenon that we call a solar eclipse and why does it happen? There are three types of eclipses, full, annular, partial. Total solar eclipses last for hours, but totality only spans a few minutes. Solar eclipses are one of the greatest events that the backyard astronomer can witness. Learn more about this natural phenomenon at History.com.