Solar eclipse observatory, Nicobar Islands, 1875.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from the 'Illustrated London News', showing various locations including 'The Equatorial Camera', 'Brownings Reflector and Spectroscopic Camera' and 'Sig Tacchini's Observatory'. Other scenes include the village of Malakka, and views from observation stations. 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.