This morning our whole family was up early to prepare for the solar eclipse over Australia. While it was a total eclipse over the north of Australia, here in Brisbane we 'only' got 84% coverage (sadly for me, the path of totality went straight over my home town though!). Nevertheless, we got out a pair of binoculars and projected the Sun on to some canvas to watch the progress of the eclipse. The above photo was taken at around the time of the Moon's maximum coverage of the Sun here. The light certainly dimmed appreciably, and I think the temperature dropped, but nothing compared to the darkness that happens with totality.
Below is some YouTube footage taken in North Queensland this morning of the total eclipse. You can only imagine what our ancestors must have thought of events like this - what did they think was happening, and how long did it take them to start being able to predict them?
There's also some interesting 'strange science' that surrounds solar eclipses, perhaps the most well-known being the alleged Allais Effect, in which some claim that changes in the oscillation of a pendulum during an eclipse suggest anomalous changes in gravity. And then there's the whole 'coincidence' of the Moon's distance and size being a perfect fit to cover the Sun, at its distance and size...
Sci-fi writers, I can give you no better start than that.