Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse

On Monday 21 August 2017 there’s a total solar eclipse over the United States, which will be visible in other countries as a partial eclipse.

The last time that Americal had a total eclipse like this was on June 8, 1918. It will be most visible in 11 US states – including Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

NASA have produced this map which shows the patch of the total eclipse, and you’ll be able to watch it streamed live on the NASA website here

You can read more about the 2017 eclipse in America here

Nasa's solar eclipse map for 21.8.17

Here on the north west coast it looks like we’ve got a decent chance of seeing something rather than nothing, as Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and the Azores will see it from beginning to end.

From the UK, the eclipse will start just after 7.30pm and be at it’s peak at about 8pm. 

Because we see sunset to it’s bitter end and beyond on the coast we’ll likely get a reasonable view from the Fylde. For the rest of the UK, sunset will happen before the end of the eclipse.

Where the solar eclipse will be visible in the UK on Monday 21.8.17

Because the moon orbits the earth much closer than the sun, even though it is a lot smaller than the sun their relative distances apart make them appear to be the same size from here. So when the moon passes the sun it looks like it covers it up perfectly. It’s a bit like holding Blackpool Tower between your thumb and finger when you take a photo from the pier!

If you’re in the right place at the right time, the sky will darken and it will turn cooler as the moon obscures the sun from view. How obvious the eclipse is won’t just depend on whether you are in the path of it, it will also be affected by how much cloud cover there is on the day.

The last solar eclipse was on 20 March 2015, and with great anticipation we went out onto the seafront to watch the event here at Cleveleys. It happened in the morning and unfortunately it was a fairly cloudy day so the view wasn’t spectacular. That time it was an 80% eclipse here in the UK.

There was a strange eery quietness about everything, and the sky did go a funny colour. Very unusual experience, despite the cloudiness. Read on to see photos and find out more about the 2015 eclipse.

The next eclipse…

If the weather is poor on Monday, the next chance to see a good solar eclipse here in the UK is on 12 August 2026 – that one will be a 90% coverage all across the UK – so save the date!

It’s likely that most of us won’t be here for the next total eclipse in the UK – it’s on 23 September 2090… 

Chaos in America

America is expecting the event to cause an influx of tourists in the places where it will be most visible, including prime viewing spots in the West of Missouri, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon etc, with an increased demand in portable toilets and hospital beds alike, as people sustain retinal burns caused by looking at it without proper eclipse eye protection.

It’s obviously going to cause a drop in the amount of solar power that’s generated too – all the things that you never think of for the ten minutes that you spend gazing at the sky!

On 20 June the US Postal Service even issued a commemmorative stamp with a heat sensitive coating that reveals an image of the full moon.

Solar Eclipse 20 March 2015

On Friday 20 March 2015 three things happened in the heavens.

There’s a solar eclipse, a supermoon and it was the Spring equinox.

And here it is… the eclipse captured live at 9.25 am on Friday 20 March in Cleveleys, right here on the Fylde Coast

Solar Eclipse at Cleveleys on 20.3.15

For most of the morning, thick cloud cover made it look like this:

Solar eclipse in Cleveleys 20.3.15

It didn’t go as dark as I expected it to, it just felt like a cold, dull day in the middle of winter. The street lights didn’t come on either, although the seagulls were squawking as if they weren’t keen!

Have a look at this video clip.

Cleveleys beach at the eclipse on 20.3.15

Solar Eclipse

A solar eclipse – is where the moon lines up between the earth and the sun, to momentarily block out the sun and its light.

The eclipse on 20.3.15 started from about 8.30am when the moon slowly started to pass in front of the sun over the course of about an hour. It took about another hour for things to return to normal.

The most complete view of the eclipse was at 9.30am and depending on where you are in the UK you saw different amounts of coverage – assuming of course that the sky isn’t covered in cloud, in which case it will feel cooler and go very dull.


Over the previous twelve months to 20.3.15, the moon had been in it’s closest orbit to earth, causing some unusually high tides since the previous September.

Super Moon over Cleveleys, July 2016

In doing it’s closest fly-past the earth, the moon looks bigger than normal hence it’s dubbed a ‘supermoon‘, and for sky-gazers and photographers alike it provides some really attractive sights.

There are between three and six supermoons in any given year – and in 2015 there were six. We’d seen two already – 20 March was the third one, and the others were in August, September and October.

Spring Equinox

Friday 20.3.15 was also the Spring equinox. This marks the day when there are equal hours of daylight and darkness, and heralds the approach of Spring proper and the warmer months of summer.

Other than sitting with a stopwatch, the equinox isn’t something which you can ‘see’ as being any different in appearance to any other normal day.

It is a marker in the calendar, and it’s a day which is celebrated as a day of rebirth.

However, it’s very rare for these three things to happen at the same time.

Solar Eclipse Safety First!

DO NOT look straight at the sun with the naked eye even during the eclipse – it can cause permanent eye damage and even blindness.

Solar burns to the retina are not painful and the loss of vision is not always immediate but can take hours or days to develop and there is no treatment for it.

DO NOT use binoculars or a telescope, or view it through a camera lens.

DO NOT view the eclipse through smoked glass, stacked sunglasses, polarised shades or photographic filters.

DO wear special eclipse viewing glasses – not ordinary sunglasses. 

Eclipse glasses are made from safe solar filter materials similar to the eye protection worn by arc welders that have a rating of 14 or higher. These can be bought online from a trusted source.

DO make a simple pinhole camera to project the image of the sun onto a blank sheet of paper.

Get two pieces of white card; poke a small hole in one piece of card using a compass or something sharp. Stand with your back to the sun, holding both cards up, with the one with the pinhole nearest to you.

The light through the pinhole will be projected on to the second piece of card, allowing the eclipse to be viewed safely. Never look through the pinhole at the sun, only at the projected image.

Find out More

If you’re interested in all the science behind a solar eclipse, have a read at the page about it on Wikipedia, here.

Solar eclipse at Cleveleys 20.3.17The solar eclipse at Cleveleys on 20.3.15

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