(This video footage from the European Space Agency shows the Sun being completely blocked out by the solar eclipse on March 20, 201).

A rare total solar eclipse dimmed the skies above a small patch of the world today (March 20), creating an incredible sight on the first day of spring for skywatchers lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to see it.

The Friday solar eclipse took place on the March equinox, kicking off the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere and fall in the south. The next March equinox eclipse won’t happen for another 19 years.

 The eclipse also happened to occur during a supermoon (when the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit), but the moon was in its new phase and a large dark disk during the eclipse.

Only people in Denmark’s Faroe Islands and Norway’s Svalbard Islands the North Atlantic were able to see the total phase of the solar eclipse in person. However, partial phases of the eclipse were potentially visible for millions of stargazers in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, if weather was favorable.

The European Space Agency held several solar eclipse events at its centers across Europe and reported large crowds hoping to catch a glimpse of the event.

Norway’s NRK News broadcast spectacular live views of the sun disappearing behind the moon, followed by a breathtaking view of totality as the sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona, became visible.

Total solar eclipses occur when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, obscuring the star from view and casting a shadow of the moon on parts of the planet’s surface. The moon seems to blot out the sun perfectly, a cosmic coincidence.

If you missed today’s total solar eclipse, you might have another chance to see one in March 2016 from Borneo, Sumatra, Sulawesi and parts of the Pacific Ocean.

Many people in North America should have the chance to see another total solar eclipse in about two years, when the shadow of the moon passes over a wide swath of the country. People in the east, middle and the west of the country should be able to see the sun totally blotted out by the moon during that eclipse in August 2017.

The next solar eclipse on Earth will be a partial solar eclipse on Sept. 13, but it will be over Antarctica, making observation a challenge. In the meantime, the moon will put on its own show on April 3 during the first of two total lunar eclipses of 2015.

SOURCES:  space.com, EarthSky.org

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