Three stages of a solar eclipse, 1858.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from the 'Illustrated London News', depicting various stages of an eclipse of the Sun which occurred on 15 March 1851. Solar eclipses have always inspired fascination, awe, and indeed terror in ancient times. In the 19th century, expeditions were dispatched around the world to make scientific observations of eclipses, and today a dedicated band of 'eclipse tourists' is prepared to travel to almost any location where the phenomena can be experienced.