solar eclipse Photo: sky news
UK (BBN)-A near-total solar eclipse will occur in the skies above Britain this week, prompting warnings about the dangers of watching the spectacle without taking precautions.
The eclipse will begin around 8.30am on Friday and last for two hours as the moon moves in front of the Sun, reports Sky News.
The proportion of the Sun covered by the moon will increase the further north you are.
In London, 84% of the Sun will be covered, while in Edinburgh the proportion is 93%.
The last solar eclipse of such significance took place in August 1999, when a total eclipse occurred.
Tour operators have organised trips based around the event, which will briefly allow the Sun’s outer atmosphere to be seen.
Robin Scagell, vice-president of the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), who will be travelling on the P&O cruise ship Oriana to witness the eclipse, said the event will be “memorable”.
“We won’t experience totality in the UK, but it will still be a memorable event,” he said.
“Depending on where you are, up to 90% of the Sun will be covered over.”
Organised events are being held in London’s Regent’s Park and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
In the lead up to the event, experts have offered advice on safety and warned of the perils of Sun-watching.
“Unlike every other eclipse of any size, this one takes place right in the middle of the rush hour. It’s not the best time from a safety point of view,” Mr Scagell said.
“We’ve always had this problem with partial eclipses in particular. You need to cut down the light of the Sun by an enormous amount before you can look at it safely.
“Sunglasses are useless and even things like food packing and bin liners that look as if they’re made of dense material can let through infrared light and burn your retina.
“A partial eclipse is more risky by far than a total eclipse because people don’t realise that even looking at a thin sliver of Sun is dangerous.
“It’s absolutely true that there is a serious risk to people’s eyesight.
“If people can’t find a way to view the eclipse correctly then they shouldn’t look because they’re likely to damage their eyes.”
A spokeswoman for The Royal College of Ophthalmologists said: “The general public must remember that they should not look directly at the Sun or at a solar eclipse, either with the naked eye, even if dark filters such as sunglasses or photographic negatives are used, nor through optical equipment such as cameras, binoculars or telescopes.
“There is no safe system to directly view an eclipse.
“Particular care should be taken with children. Children should not be allowed to look directly at the Sun at any time.”
Sky weather presenter Isobel Lang said: “It is too early to give a detailed forecast for Friday morning’s solar eclipse but the general theme is for a northwesterly breeze to bring in fairly cloudy skies.
“Weakening fronts are also likely to spread in some rain, although there is still a chance that most places will be dry.
“The best of any clear/sunny spells at this stage looks set to be across central and southwestern areas.”
BBN/SK/AD-16Mar15-5:30pm (BST)