Friday's Solar Eclipse: Everything You Need to Know About Watching the 2015 Eclipse

By Lifehacker UK on at

In case you have been hiding under a rock (if you have. then), Friday March 20th will see a partial solar eclipse viewable across the UK. Here are all the solar eclipse details you need to know.

What type of solar eclipse is it?

It's a partial eclipse, so part of the sun will still be visible - around 15 per cent of it if you live in the south of England. But if you happen to be in the far Northern reaches of the UK - Northern Scotland, the Shetlands or Orkneys - you could be seeing up to 97 to 98 per cent of the sun blocked out.

The 2015 total eclipse will be seen on the Faroe Islands and Svalbard - remote Danish and Norwegian islands North of us.

Apparently the day before the eclipse there will be a supermoon - this is the term applied to the sun and moon being as close together as they can possibly be and so the moon appears to be larger than usual.

Friday is also the Spring Equinox as well - essentially meaning that Spring is here and that there are equal hours of day and night.

Why is Friday's partial eclipse so important?

Firstly, this will be the last partial eclipse we'll see in the UK until 2026.

The last total solar eclipse visible in the UK was on 11th August 1999. If you were in the UK then, you probably knew where you were. We'll have to wait until 2090 for the next UK total eclipse.

When can I see Friday's solar eclipse?

Beware - before setting up deckchairs in the garden, check the cloud cover in your area. That will unfortunately dictate whether you'll be able to see anything.

The Met Office's handy map below shows the times at which you'll see most of the sun hidden, ranging from 9.25am in the Channel Islands to 9.43am in the Shetlands. You'll obviously want to be watching before the times listed here to see the sun covered over.

The first contact -or moment the moon starts to eclipse the sun - will be around 8.26am in the South West of the UK according to the British Astronomical Association and could last until 10.46am in Aberdeen and even later in Shetland and Orkney. It will all be over around 10 minutes before that in the UK.

So to make sure you miss nothing - if you're in the south you'll need to be watching from around 8.15am and from 8.25am in the North and things will be over around before 10.40am in the far South and by 10.50am in the North.

Of course, you can get outside a lot later than the start time (and for a shorter time) if it is cloudy and you just want to see the main effect of the partial eclipse - a bit of darkness. If that's the case you'll just want to get outside a few minutes before these times.


Solar eclipse safety

There have been numerous news stories already warning of the dangers of looking at the eclipse itself. As on every other day of the year, DON'T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN with the naked eye. Of course, if you're using a special fit-for-purpose filter (details here) you can get away with it.

Many news outlets are warning people trying to take selfies of the eclipse – if you manage to take a selfie with the sun, you're obviously some kind of miracle merchant – still, don't try it. We'd recommend making yourself a good, solid pinhole camera instead.

Image Credit: Phases of the moon from Shutterstock

This article originally appeared on Lifehacker UK -- the expert guide to getting things done more efficiently, whether at home or at work.