Public witnes of the solar eclipse, London, 1870.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Illustration taken from 'Illustrated London News'. 'All clases and profesions gaze in wonder at the sky.' Members of the crowd include policemen, women, dandies, urchins and schoolboys. 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.