A total solar eclipse will be taking place on the morning of March 20, 2015 — with totality being visible only from the Faroe Islands and the island of Svalbard, Norway. That said, an excellent show is still in store for those in the UK, most of Europe, Greenland, northern Africa, Western Asia, and Newfoundland — with near totality visible to those in the northern portions of these regions (Edinburgh will see 93% of the Sun obscured by the Moon, the Shetlands 97%).
For those in the UK and Ireland this will mark the deepest solar eclipse since all the way back in 1999, and there won’t be a comparable solar eclipse in the region again until 2026.
The solar eclipse will begin for those in London right at 8:25 GMT, with maximum eclipse occurring at 9:31 GMT (85% totality for those in London), and the eclipse ending completely at around 10:41 GMT.
It should probably be stated here that the general consensus is that looking at solar eclipses (or the Sun itself, for that matter) with the naked eye is considered to be damaging to the eye. So the recommendation is that special equipment (some of it quite cheap to make) should be used.
In anticipation of this solar eclipse, many amateur astronomical societies and public observatories will be holding events where people can watch the solar eclipse with special equipment.
In the UK, the RAS and the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers (BSIA) will be holding a free event in Regent’s Park, central London — whereby people can “come and view the eclipse using appropriate equipment at no cost”.
Here’s a bit more background via a recent press release from the Royal Observatory:
Total solar eclipses take place when the Earth, Moon and Sun are almost precisely aligned and the shadow of the Moon touches the surface of the Earth. At mid-eclipse, observers within the lunar shadow briefly see totality, where the silhouette of the Moon completely covers the Sun, revealing the beautiful outer solar atmosphere or corona. Totality is visible this time along a track a few hundred kilometres wide, which only intersects two landmasses, the Faroe Islands midway between Scotland and Iceland, and the arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Observers in those locations will see between two and two-and-a-half minutes of totality. Away from the path of the total eclipse the Sun is only partly obscured by the Moon.
Those interested can find a GIF showing where the shadow of the Moon will fall here.
All said and done this will be the best solar eclipse for those in northwestern Europe for some time. So make sure you get out and see it! Solar eclipses really are quite fascinating when the weather cooperates.
(Those interested in meteor showers as well as solar eclipses would do well to check out: Meteor Showers 2015: Lyrids, Leonids, Perseids, Geminids, Draconids, Orionids, Etc, Dates and Times)
Image Credit: Public Domain