© Reeth Informal Astronomy Group unless otherwise indicated
covering the Northern Yorkshire Dales
Partial Eclipse of the sun on Friday 20th March
Observing the Eclipse
On Friday 20th March there will be a solar eclipse visible from the UK. This occurs when the moon moves onto a direct line between the Earth and the Sun. Although the moon is much smaller than the sun, it is also much closer so they appear almost the same diameter in the sky. The eclipse will start at about 8.30 am, reach maximum about 9.30 am and will be over by 10.30 am. From the UK the moon will appear to cover about 93% of the sun at maximum. But it will be difficult to observe safely, because the sun is so bright.
Never look directly at the sun, even with sunglasses.
This is because very intense sunlight can damage the retina at the back of your eyes. Normal sunglasses aren’t enough to prevent this effect when staring at the sun itself. They aren’t dark enough and don’t stop all wavelengths coming through, which mean your eyes can still be damaged even from short exposures. After the 1999 partial eclipse, a significant number of people who stared at the sun with inadequate protection suffered long-term eye damage.
Never look in the direction of the sun with binoculars or telescopes
This is because these instruments concentrate the power of the sun, and even the briefest accidental glance will severely damage the back of your eyes, leading to permanent blindness.
Observing without looking
Even if you are not able to see the eclipse itself, there are still things to observe. Three things to do without looking at the sun are: