The nature of light in the ancient times was not known. People knew that it comes from the Sun, and without any further knoledge, many of them would then pray before the Sun as their god. They knew that plants shriveled without sunlight, and realised that the Sun was the pretector of all life on Earth. However, they were unaware about how our Solar System looks. Many of them thought that if they do not pray before the Sun god, he might be angry from them and refuse to shower his blessings upon the people on the earth.
One such culture were the Aryans, ancient people who lived in the Indian sub-continent few thousand years ago. They believed in the 'Sun God', or 'Surya devta' as they called him. The famous Sun temple in the Indian state of Rajasthan was built as a mark of respect for him. The sun-symbol can also be found in many other buildings in the state.
Many people in ancient Egypt also believed in the Sun God, as the 'Aton'. He was the most powerful and important of all Egyption gods.
Some other places where the Sun was worshipped were Mexico and Ecuador. Whereare the Aztecs of Mexico worshipped 'Tonatiuh' as their Sun god, the Incas in Ecuador believed that their rulers were living descendants of the Sun.
However, Sun was not the only natural power that was worshipped by the ancient people. In some civilizations, other natural powers like lightning, wind and rain were also worshipped so as to keep them pleased with the people.
Eclipses, or shadows in space, terrorised many civilizations in the past. Many thought of them as a devils, which prevent light from the Sun and Moon to reach the earth. Known as a 'grahan', an eclipse in India today, is often followed by scores of people bathing in the holy rivers to wash off their sins. A legend says that when Columbus landed on Jamaica in the early 16th century, he failed to gather the supports of the Indians there. However, knowing that a lunar-eclipse wouls occur soon, he commanded the moon to go dark before a gathering of people. The moon did, and the people were amazed at the natural powers of Columbus.
Some natural phenomenon, like the "Brockenspekter", that occur in the high mountains at dawn and dusk have deceived many people, and made them believe in a magic of some sort. This phenomenon is just the formation of colourful rings, around the shadow of someone standing on top of a high hill, onto the clouds, the sun being in a low-position behind the person.
Europeans in the 15th century believed that the Earth was the centre of the universe, and that all other planets and the stars revolvd aroud it. These views had been accepted by the church, and when Galileo raised his voice against these views, on the basis of his observations. But he received a vehement oppsition from many orthodox people. However, he stuck to his views about the solar-system, and had to pay with his life for that.
But science having come so far, the views in the minds of people today are based upon strong facts and foundations.