Solar eclipse set to follow aurora for Northumberland skywatchers

Solar Eclipse
Solar Eclipse

The recent and spectacular appearances of the aurora in Northumberland are set to be followed by a near-total solar eclipse later this month.

On Friday, March 20, a total solar eclipse will occur across the far northern regions of Europe and the Arctic.

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.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the sun and earth. Due to a co-incidence of positioning, the moon exactly covers the sphere of the sun, thus creating the total eclipse.

This time, however, the UK is not under the area of totality, but Northumberland, being further north, is well-placed to see approximately a 90 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.

Although the majority of the sun will be covered, you should never look directly at the sun.

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.