"The sun has perished out of heaven, and an evil mist has overspread the world," wrote Homer in the Odyssey. Homer was referring to a great solar eclipse that occurred on April 16, 1178 B.C., according to National Geographic. Solar eclipses have had a significant influence on humanity, traditionally seen as a sign of impending doom. The ancient Chinese, for example, thought a solar eclipse meant that a dragon was trying to eat the sun. The Incas had a similar theory that a creature was trying to destroy our star.
Today, experts are equally enthralled with solar eclipses, which provide an opportunity to gather information about the sun in relation to the Earth — and produce some amazing photos. To coincide with the "ring of fire" eclipse on May 20, we’ve gathered eight outstanding images of solar eclipses from across the globe. Pictured here is a partial solar eclipse taken on Jan. 4, 2011, from Borne, Netherlands. (Text: Katherine Butler)