Solar eclipse 2015: what you need to know

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LONDON. KAZINFORM - Parts of the world will witness a solar eclipse on Friday - a rare phenomenon in which the sun is completely obscured by the moon. Here's everything you need to know about the background of the solar eclipse, where to view it and how.

A history of eclipses Records show that the Babylonians and the ancient Chinese were able to predict solar eclipses as early as 2500 BC, but it was a phenomenon that confounded ancient civilisations for centuries. In ancient China, the eclipse was seen to foretell the future of the emperor. More than 4,000 years ago, two Chinese astrologers were executed for failing to predict a solar eclipse. The Chinese people would get together during an eclipse to bang pots and pans to scare away any demons, Kazinform cites the Guardian. A variety of cultures thought the eclipse was a result of entities devouring the sun. In Vietnam, it was thought that a giant frog was eating it, while the Vikings thought it was the fault of wolves. Meanwhile, according to ancient Hindu mythology, the eclipse happened when the deity Rahu was beheaded by the gods for drinking ambrosia. Rahu's head was said to have flown into the sky, where it swallowed the sun. How often does a solar eclipse take place? A solar eclipse can only happen at new moon, when the moon directly blocks sight of the sun from certain places in the world. It can take place up to five times a year, though according to Nasa, only 25 years in the past 5,000 have had five solar eclipses. In the last 500 years there have only been eight total solar eclipses that could be seen from the UK. The last one was in 1999, when thousands of people travelled to Devon and Cornwall to see it. The UK will not see another eclipse until 2090. Where can you see it? The solar eclipse will take place at around 8.45am GMT and is due to last for a few hours. Most of it will go unnoticed because its path falls over the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. It will start in Greenland and move counterclockwise towards the northeast, passing over Iceland and the UK. Phases of the eclipse will be visible from everywhere in Europe, most of northern Africa, western Asia and parts of the Middle East. Saint John's in Newfoundland, Canada, will also see a small bit of the eclipse at sunrise, but the rest of North America will not be able to view it. The sun will be completely blocked out on the Norwegian islands of Svalbard, where some hotels have been booked out for the event since 2008. Full story

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