Tonight’s solar eclipse: When, where and how to view

Partial solar eclipse seen in Ireland from about 7:40pm, with best views in the west

Eclipse-watchers in Depoe bay, Oregon cheered wildly as the moon blocked out the Sun in the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in the United States in nearly a century began. Video: Reuters

 

Viewers in Ireland will be able to witness a partial solar eclipse lasting about 50 minutes from 7.40pm tonight.

Here’s what you need to know on how and when to view it, and a little background on such events in Ireland.

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse is where the Earth, moon and Sun align, with the moon blocking the view of the Sun from the Earth.

Hayden Campbell Shaw, from Clonsilla, at Astronomy Ireland headquarters in Blanchardstown for the partial solar eclipse. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Hayden Campbell Shaw, from Clonsilla, at Astronomy Ireland headquarters in Blanchardstown for the partial solar eclipse. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Someone viewing a total eclipse will only be able to see a dark black circle where the Sun would be, while the sky darkens and the temperature drops.

A total eclipse happens when the moon aligns perfectly in between the Earth and the Sun, a partial eclipse occurs when it is close to such a position. Those witnessing a total eclipse will be able to watch as the shadow of the moon moves across the Sun until it completes blocks it, resulting in light on the Earth’s surface visibly dimming.

Eva and Flinn Bracken, from Swords, at Astronomy Ireland headquarters in Blanchardstown for the partial solar eclipse. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Eva and Flinn Bracken, from Swords, at Astronomy Ireland headquarters in Blanchardstown for the partial solar eclipse. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon travels behind the Earth and both lie directly in line with the Sun.

When will it take place?

A total solar eclipse will be seen on this occasion in the United States, but viewers in Ireland will be able to witness a partial eclipse.

The partial solar eclipse as seen from Astronomy Ireland HQ in Blanchardstown. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
The partial solar eclipse as seen from Astronomy Ireland HQ in Blanchardstown. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The partial eclipse will begin at about 7:38pm this evening. Astronomers have estimated the event will peak at about 8:03pm and end at 8:27pm.

The view will be weather-dependent, and the best view in Ireland will be from the west coast. Southwest Cork is thought to be the best vantage point.

A partially obscured Sun during the solar eclipse as seen in Depoe Bay, Oregon, US, August 21st, 2017. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters
A partially obscured Sun during the solar eclipse as seen in Depoe Bay, Oregon, US, August 21st, 2017. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters
A man looks through solar viewing glasses to watch the total solar eclipse in New York City, US. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters
A man looks through solar viewing glasses to watch the total solar eclipse in New York City, US. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters
From left, Schweta, Rhea and Saanvi Kulkarni, from Seattle, try out eclipse glasses at Salem, Oregon, on Monday, August 21st, 2017. The US was preparing for a total solar eclipse. Photograph: Don Ryan/AP Photo
From left, Schweta, Rhea and Saanvi Kulkarni, from Seattle, try out eclipse glasses at Salem, Oregon, on Monday, August 21st, 2017. The US was preparing for a total solar eclipse. Photograph: Don Ryan/AP Photo

Met Éireann’s latest weather forecast indicates there may be some rain in the west from about 6pm, but skies should be clear overall.

How can I view it?

It is highly dangerous to look directly at the Sun - either during a total or partial eclipse - without appropriate protection for the eyes.

Staring directly at the Sun during the event without proper equipment can damage your eyes.

Eclipse glasses are passed around at a football stadium at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, US. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters
Eclipse glasses are passed around at a football stadium at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, US. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters
A woman watches through a telescope at Madras High School ahead of a solar eclipse in Madras, Oregon, US. Photograph: Jason Redmond/Reuters
A woman watches through a telescope at Madras High School ahead of a solar eclipse in Madras, Oregon, US. Photograph: Jason Redmond/Reuters

Special “eclipse glasses” are required to look directly at it, while sun glasses or 3D glasses will not offer protection from damage. Eclipse glasses can be purchased from Astronomy Ireland.

Alternatively, Astronomy Ireland is hosting a public viewing of the eclipse from its headquarters in Dublin at Rosemount Business Park, while another viewing is being hosted at Kingsmeadow, Old Cork Road, Waterford between 7.30pm and 8.30pm.

Total eclipse

Ireland will not witness a total solar eclipse until 2090, astronomers predict. Two years ago, Ireland witnessed a near total eclipse.

The last total solar eclipse occurred in Ireland as far back as 1727. The last one visible in the United States took place in 1979.