Partial eclipse of the sun to be visible in Grantham – if the clouds part
Dig out those super-safe sun safety glasses kept at the back of the cupboard since 1999, turn your eyes skywards and look out tomorrow (Thursday) for a partial solar eclipse.
In the UK it will be start at 10.07am. It will reach its maximum coverage at 11.14am, concluding at 12.26pm.
Cloud is forecast so it may be that there is only glimpses of the phenomenon.
Solar eclipses happen when the moon comes between Earth and the sun, the three celestial objects aligned so that the moon leaves a shadow on Earth. The last full one in England was 1999.
The type of solar eclipse that occurs depends on where the moon is in its elliptical orbit (remember, it doesn’t travel around Earth in a perfect circle). If the moon is at its closest point to Earth (called perigee) it can block out most of the sun’s rays, creating a total eclipse.
However, if the moon is aligned with the sun when it’s near to its furthest point (called apogee) from the Earth, it won’t block out all light. Instead, it leaves a red ring or ‘annulus’ visible, creating what’s known as an annular eclipse.
Tomorrow the top of the sun only will be covered in shadow. The further north you are, the more you’ll see, with the north of Scotland witnessing more than 30 per cent of the sun eclipsed, other areas less.
However, the eclipse comes with a health warning. Dr Chien Wong, consultant retinal surgeon at OCL Vision, said: “Solar eclipses can be a breathtaking spectacle. But if you’re not careful, viewing them can put your eyes at serious risk.
“Viewing the sun directly, even momentarily, can cause irreversible damage to your eyes - particularly your fine central vision. The delicate retina cells can be damaged by the sun’s rays, which remain powerful even during an eclipse.
“There is no treatment for this kind of damage, and clearly no spectacle is worth permanently harming your vision.
“Wearing sunglasses will provide only limited protection if you look at the sun directly. The safest way to view an eclipse is indirectly - for example by making a pinhole camera out of cardboard.
“Dedicated solar eclipse glasses and filters can be used, but even they should be worn with caution, as the sun is still capable of breaking through this technology.
“While nothing beats seeing the cosmic beauty of the stars with your own eyes, when it comes to viewing a solar eclipse, it’s much safer to consider watching it on your TV.”
But there is a safe way to look at it. Grab a colander, hold it out above a piece of white paper and look at the shadow of the eclipse.