The first and last contact of the moon's shadow during a solar eclipse, 1851.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Illustration taken from the 'Illustrated London News', showing the points of first and last contact made by the shadow of the Moon as it crosed the disc of the Sun in the eclipse of 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.