Solar eclipses have been fascinating—and often terrifying—humans throughout the course of history. For the first time in nearly 100 years, a solar eclipse’s path of totality, where the entire sun is obscured by the moon, will cross a wide swath of the United States on August 21, 2017. As millions prepare to witness the phenomenon, find out how some early cultures and religions tried to explain and understand a solar eclipse.
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.