City to be left in shade when eclipse arrives

A solar eclipse is due this Friday.
A solar eclipse is due this Friday.
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All eyes will be directed skywards on Friday morning when the district is expected to be able to see a partial eclipse of the sun.

Up to 90 per cent of the sun is likely to be hidden by the moon as it crosses the sun, with the maximum eclipse point at 9.32am.

Dr Chris Arridge, a Royal Society research fellow and lecturer from Lancaster University’s physics department said: “An eclipse happens because the moon doesn’t go around the earth in precisely the same way that the earth goes around the sun.

“The moon has to be just between the earth and the sun and at just the right angle to block out the light.”

Keen astonomers around the Lancaster district will get the best view of the eclipse at 9.32am, when it will be at its maximum point of 90 per cent in this area.

Dr Arridge said: “Unfortunately we won’t get a total eclipse in Lancashire, we will get a partial eclipse where we will be able to see about 10 per cent of the sun.

Astronomers are expected to be out in force for this Friday's solar eclipse. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Astronomers are expected to be out in force for this Friday's solar eclipse. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

“People in the Faroe Islands and the Shetland Islands will see a full eclipse.

“We will first see contact at 8.27am, when the moon just starts to cover the sun.

“That goes through to the maximum at 9.32am and it all ends at 10.41am. The current weather forecast shows sunny weather, but even if it is cloudy it will still go noticeably dark, much like twilight.”

People wishing to watch the eclipse should be careful so as not to damage their eyes. The best and simplest way is by using two sheets of paper as a home-made pinhole camera.

Dr Arridge said: “Some people say you can use sunglasses but you really shouldn’t. They block out the light glare but there are certain colours of light that still get through that can damage your eyes.

“You can buy special eclipse viewing goggles to provide complete protection but an easy way is to take a piece of paper and put a tiny hole in it with a needle.

“If you then hold that in front of the sun and allow the light that comes through the hole to fall onto another piece of paper held 2-3ft away you can then look at the second piece of paper to see a projected image of the sun with the moon crossing it.

“A colander does exactly the same thing if you hold it up to the sun and look at the piece of paper it projects the image onto.”

Dr Arridge said scientists continue to study and learn from events such as solar eclipses.

He said: “I am looking forward to it. I saw the last solar eclipse in 1999 on the south coast but it was cloudy.

“Hopefully the weather will be good and we will get a good view.

“Because the moon blocks out the disc of the sun we can see the atmosphere of the sun around it. This is a site of lots of activity such as solar flares which scientists study to help them learn about the sun.

“It is two million degrees Celsius in the sun’s corona and we don’t know why it’s heated or how it stays hot so that’s a big focus for scientists which we can look at during periods of eclipses.

“A scientist can look at pictures but this is a connection of your eyes with the science and experiencing it ourselves gives the human aspect of it.”