The moment the moon covers the sun in a total solar eclipse, everything goes silent. Then, “you hear people saying: ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,’ and they just say it for three minutes,” says Fred Espenak, an astrophysicist who has been to 27 total solar eclipses. “Others are totally speechless. Some people might even be praying. Others, just tears of joy running down their cheek.”
Huge crowds are expected for the total solar eclipse that will cut a path across the United States on August 21, and for many, it’s sure to be a powerful communal experience. “For a brief minute, everybody is doing the same thing at the same time,” Rhonda Coleman, an eclipse chaser from Bend, Oregon says. “It makes you feel a part of the Earth. It makes you feel a part of the cosmos. It makes you feel a part of every single person you're standing there with. Just for a brief time, we're not separate, we're all the same.”
People have been observing eclipses together for as long as humans have been on Earth. They occur about once every 18 months, and can pass through any country on Earth.
Below, find some of our favorite photos of people around the world, donning protective eyewear, looking through pinhole projections, wearing ridiculous boxes, or gazing through protective film. (Though note: X-ray or camera film is not sufficiently dark to completely protect your eyes.)