Europe Plunged Into Darkness In Near-Perfect Solar Eclipse

Photo: Clive Postlethwaite/REX USA.
According to ancient Chinese lore, a dragon ate the sun over Europe this morning. Per contemporary astronomy, the moon passed between Earth and the sun in one of the best solar eclipses in years. As a result, at around 9:30 a.m. (GMT), vast tracts of Europe went dark. The eclipse, which varies in intensity depending on location, was at its most perfect over the Svalbard Islands in remote Norway. There, residents saw a perfect corona — the halo of sun rays that surround the moon during an eclipse — and experienced nearly three full minutes of darkness. Over in England, 83% of the sun was covered and in Paris, the sun was about three-quarters blocked. 
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the sun, casting a lunar shadow on Earth, blocking the sun's light. They've been recorded for centuries, and long been the subject of myths (the story of beast of some sort eating the sun is common to many cultures).  Update: Amazing pictures of the eclipse from different vantage points have been surfacing all day. Our favorites so far are these, from the cockpit of a plane, posted on Reddit by user Philthadelphia. (Check out the rest here.) 
A solar eclipse will occur next in the United States on August 21, 2017. 

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