Partial solar eclipse set for our skies - but people warned of dangers

A view of the solar eclipse through the clouds in King's Lynn. PictureL Matthew Usher.

A partial solar eclipse is set to grace skies across the UK this week as the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. - Credit: Matthew Usher

With a partial solar eclipse set to take place this week, a Norfolk astronomer has reminded people of the dangers of looking directly at the sun.  

On Thursday morning [June 10], sky-gazers will be able to see nearly a third of the sun being blocked out by the Moon in what is known as an annular eclipse. 

But Mark Thompson, Astronomy broadcaster, author and co-presenter of BBC Stargazing Live, says to be careful when trying to spot it.  

In Norfolk people should be able to spot the partial eclipse from about 10.15am.  

Mr Thompson said: “It depends where you are in the UK as to what time you see it but in the Norfolk area it’s going to be starting from about 10.15am in the morning and finishing around 12.30pm. 

“Astronomy is normally doing things at night time, but it will be on a nice day. 

“If people do miss this one then the next opportunity to see a partial solar eclipse will be October 2022, so next year.  

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“There are dangers with observing solar eclipses. The sun gives off a lot energy, not just visible light but lots of radiation we can’t see. The real danger of eclipses is that people will look at the sun to try and see it but that is the worst thing you could do.  

“You can damage your eye sight just by looking at the sun normally, but looking at it through binoculars or telescopes, that makes it even worse.” 

Customers and staff at Wex Photographic gather to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse. Picture: A

A partial solar eclipse is set to grace skies across the UK this week as the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. - Credit: Archant

Even though a large part of the solar disc will be covered, looking at the partially eclipsed sun without appropriate protection can cause serious and permanent damage to the eyes. 

It is not advised to look at the sun directly through sunglasses, binoculars, telescopes or a telephoto lens on an SLR camera. 

Safe ways to view the eclipse simple include using a simple a pinhole projector, solar eclipse viewing glasses or special solar filters - which can fit on telescopes. 

Mr Thompson added: “You can get solar eclipse glasses but they tend to sell out quite quickly when an eclipse is happening. It’s a thin piece of plastic material with a very thin layer of aluminium deposited on both sides of it.  

“With those you can pop them on your eyes and look at the sun and its perfectly safe. But what you mustn’t do with those is put them on and look through a telescope. You must use them separately” 

Although Mr Thompson said there is not anything particularly significant with this partial eclipse, he said it’s a great thing to watch if you can.