Partial solar eclipse: When, where and how to watch it

Astronomy Ireland streaming the deepest partial eclipse of the sun we have had since 2015

The partial solar eclipse as seen over Ireland. The annular eclipse occurs when the sun and moon are exactly in line with the Earth. Video: Emma McArdle

 

Every couple of years or so somewhere on Earth, the wanderings of our planet, the sun and the moon cause them to line up like billiard balls on a velvet space table. Seeing worlds disappear behind each other in an eclipse can make you cry or scream. But getting to that point frequently takes hard work, and maybe even a bit of luck.

That looked to be as true for the coming eclipse as it has been since humans started chasing these celestial occurrences.

Ireland’s last total solar eclipse was in 1724 and we won’t have another until September 23rd, 2090. This morning’s eclipse will be the deepest partial eclipse of the Sun we have had since March 20th, 2015, and there won’t be a deeper partial solar eclipse from Ireland until March 29th, 2025.

The eclipse will start after sunrise north of Lake Superior in North America as it crosses remote regions of Canada and then into Greenland and the Arctic Ocean before going over the North Pole. It then heads south before ending in parts of the Russian Far East.

How can I watch the eclipse?

The eclipse began just before 10am the “first bite” was taken out of the Sun, and it ends just before 12.30pm, times around Ireland may vary but only by a few minutes. Maximum eclipse occured a few minutes after 11am with up to 45 per cent of the sun’s diameter being covered from Donegal, other places in Ireland could see at least 40 per cent of the Sun covered.

“Given the Irish weather it is important to note that you can see the eclipse for over 2 hours, so even if the weather forecast isn’t great, plan to watch the entire event, in the hope of seeing something!” says David Moore from Astronomy Ireland. More details of the eclipse are available at astronomy.ie.

Is it safe to look at a partial solar eclipse, or an annular one?

No. Unless you’re wearing special protective glasses, it’s never a good idea to look directly at the sun, even if it is partly or annularly eclipsed. Exposure to intense light from the sun during an eclipse can cause injuries to your retinas that may not heal. Such damage can lead to permanent vision loss, depending on how much exposure you experience. To keep safe, wear eclipse glasses while viewing the eclipse. If you can’t get any glasses or other filtering viewers in time for Thursday’s eclipse, there are other things you can do, like make a pinhole projector at home with cardboard or a paper plate.

Can I watch the eclipse online?

Astronomy Ireland will stream the eclipse online. Using a powerful telescope and special dense filters, Astronomy Ireland are showing a very close up view of the eclipse from the start 10am to the finish 12.30pm.

There are also several other options to watch a stream of the eclipse. Nasa started its video coverage on YouTube at 10am. Other websites, including Timeanddate.com and Virtual Telescope, are also providing streams from a variety of locations.