A celestial phenomenon is underway, with observers in the UK ready to see a crescent of the sun as spectators in the Arctic enjoy an annular solar eclipse.
An annular eclipse occurs when the sun and moon are exactly in line with the Earth, but the apparent size of the moon is smaller than that of the sun. This causes the sun to appear as a very bright ring, or ring, in a phenomenon known as the “ring of fire”. The full phenomenon will be visible on Thursday to those watching in places like Canada, Greenland and northern Russia.
In the unlikely event that someone is watching from the Nares Strait, which lies between Ellesmere Island and Greenland, they will experience an eclipse lasting nearly four minutes, longer than anywhere else.
Weather permitting, observers in the UK e Ireland, as well as locations ranging from the Caribbean to North Africa, will see a crescent of the sun instead of a ring – a partial eclipse – as the sun, moon, and Earth do not line up perfectly in these locations. The Met Office said parts of the UK will be cloudy, although most regions are expected to remain dry.
In places like Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, sky watchers are expected to see around 40% of the sun eclipse at the peak of the event, with the best views expected there just before 1120. However, those further south will also be able to witness. to a partial eclipse.
Those of the center and south-east England will have clear spells to watch the show, according to the Met Office. On Thursday morning, observers in these areas will be able to see nearly a third of the sun obscured by the moon.
Met Office spokesman Stephen Dixon said: “Thursday morning will see more clouds than in recent days over the east, south-east and much of southern England, although some good breaks with sunny periods are likely. Similar conditions are likely. in the east and north-east Scotland with all these areas having the best visibility of the solar eclipse.
“There will be clear periods over much of central and south-east England. Much of the far south west of England, Wales, northern Ireland, western and central Scotland will have more cloud cover, and although this may thin out by day, eclipse visibility is likely to be somewhat fleeting.
“It will be dry for many, particularly the eastern areas, while the western areas and the hills here are more likely to see some light rain and drizzle.”
Royal Observatory Greenwich astronomer Dr Emily Drabek-Maunder said the “ring of fire” would be seen from Russia, Greenland and northern Canada.
He said: “From the UK, the annular solar eclipse will be a partial eclipse, which means we will only see the moon pass in front of a small part of the sun.”
Drabek-Maunder said the phenomenon will begin at 10:08 on Thursday in the UK, with the maximum eclipse occurring at 11:13, when the moon will cover nearly a third of the sun. The partial eclipse will end at 12:22.
The last annular eclipse took place in June 2020 and it was visible to observers in a narrow belt from West Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, India and southern China.
A total solar eclipse is also expected in 2021, a phenomenon in which the moon completely obscures the surface of the Sun. The event, which is due to be held on December 4th, will be visible in Antarctica and should last just under two minutes.
Although much of the solar disk will be covered, looking at the sun partially eclipsed without it adequate protection can cause severe and permanent eye damage.
Drabek-Maunder said: “The eclipse from the UK will only be visible with certain optical techniques and aids. Never look at the sun directly or use standard sunglasses – it can cause serious eye damage.”
It is also not wise to look at the sun through binoculars, telescopes or a telephoto lens on an SLR camera.
He suggested using a simple pinhole projector, solar eclipse viewing glasses – which can be purchased online – or special sunscreens that can fit telescopes, to observe the eclipse.
“You can make a projector by making a small hole in a piece of paper. Hold the paper towards the sun so that the light shines through the hole and onto a piece of paper behind the paper. You will be able to see the shape of the sun projected onto the piece of paper and watch its shape change as the moon passes in front of the sun. “
The Royal Observatory Greenwich also streams the eclipse on its website and YouTube channel.