A near-total solar eclipse will be visible in Northumberland tomorrow morning.
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the sun and earth. Due to a coincidence of positioning, the moon exactly covers the sphere of the sun, thus creating the total eclipse, last seen in the UK in 1999.
This time, however, the UK is not under the area of totality, but Northumberland, being further north, is well-placed to see approximately a 94 per cent eclipse. It will happen over a two-hour period starting at 8.30am when the moon makes first contact with the disc of the sun before maximum coverage occurs at about 9.35am and the event finishes at 10.40am.
As pupils at Warkworth First School are aware (above), you should never look directly at the sun, even when the majority of the sun will be covered, you should never look directly at the sun.
And a Northumberland optician is urging people to take care. Morpeth Specsavers store director Ross Jennings said: “A solar eclipse of this scale and coverage is something not to be missed, but the public should be aware of the risks of looking directly as the sun and how to make sure they are not left with any long-lasting damage.
“It is vital that you protect your eyes as the sun’s UV radiation can burn the retinas, leading to permanent damage or even blindness. This can occur even if your eyes are exposed to direct sunlight for just a few seconds.
“You should never, under any circumstances, look directly at the sun without the appropriate protective eyewear. Observations from the last solar eclipse in 1999 highlighted a surge in patients with possible solar retinopathy after viewing the eclipse so without dramatising the dangers, we are asking the general public to be aware and stay safe.”
The only way to view the sun safely is to project or filter its rays. This can be done through eclipse glasses or welder’s googles. Another option is pinhole projection, a very simple method of projecting the sun onto card or a shaded surface via a pinhole.
The longest duration of totality for this eclipse will be two minutes and 46 seconds as viewed off the coast of the Faroe Islands. It will be the last total solar eclipse in Europe for more than a decade, with the next not taking place until August 12, 2026.
The area of totality, where a total eclipse can be observed, lies within a wide corridor sweeping across the Northern Atlantic, North Sea and Norwegian Sea. The Faroe Islands are one of the very few land masses that fall within this corridor. The only other islands in the path of totality are the Svalbard Islands located midway between Norway and the North Pole. Iceland just misses out with the northern edge of the path about 50 miles off the south-eastern coast of the island.
This is the only solar eclipse for the next two years, but there is a total lunar eclipse on September 28.
Related story: WATCH: How the solar eclipse will happen