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Photo taken during the 1999 eclipse, as seen from France

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby obscuring Earth's view of the Sun totally or partially. This configuration can only occur at the New Moon phase, when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction, as seen from Earth. In ancient times, and in some countries today, solar eclipses are attributed mythical properties. Total solar eclipses are very rare events for a given place on Earth. This is because totality is only visible where the umbra of the Moon touches the Earth's surface. Some people travel to the most remote places imaginable to observe eclipses. A total solar eclipse is considered by them to be the most spectacular natural phenomenon that one can observe. The 1999 total eclipse in Europe, which was without doubt the most watched eclipse in human history, helped to increase public awareness of the phenomenon. This was illustrated by many people willing to make the journey to witness the 2005 annular eclipse and the 2006 total eclipse. The next total solar eclipse will be the Solar eclipse of August 1, 2008. (continued...)

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