Solar eclipse: When is the next one?

NASA shares how to make pinhole projector to view solar eclipse

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A ‘ring of fire’ solar eclipse took place on Thursday as observers in the UK snapped a crescent sun, while those in the Arctic enjoyed an annular solar eclipse. An annular solar eclipse occurs when the sun and moon are exactly in line with the Earth, but the apparent size of the moon appears slightly smaller than the sun – creating the phenomenon known as a ‘ring of fire’. In places like Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis, onlookers were expected to have seen about 40 percent of the sun eclipsed at the height of the event, with the vest views having been expected there shortly before 11.20am.

In the unlikely event anyone was watching from the Nares Strait, between Ellesmere Island and Greenland, they will experience an eclipse lasting almost four minutes, a length of time longer than anywhere else in the world.

Dr Emily Drabek-Maunder, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said the ‘ring of fire’ would be seen from Russia, Greenland and northern Canada.

She said: “From the UK the annular solar eclipse will be a partial eclipse meaning that we’ll only see the moon pass in front of a small part of the sun.”

The last annular eclipse took place in June 2020 and was visible to observers in a narrow band stretching from west Africa to the Arabina peninsula, India and southern China.

When is the next eclipse?

The next partial solar eclipse, like the one on Thursday, will occur on October 25, 2022 and will be visible from the UK.

During this event, it’s expected up to one-quarter of the sun will be obscured from view.

Going forward, the next full solar eclipse to take place in the UK is decades away.

During this eclipse on September 23, 2090, people in Cornwall and much of England’s southern coast will see a ring of fire in the sky for three minutes and 36 seconds, just minutes before the sun sets.

Since most won’t be able to wait that long, a total solar eclipse is happening this year.

The eclipse will be visible from Antarctica on December 4, 2021, but you’ll be able to live stream the event from anywhere in the world.

The last total solar eclipse visible in the UK took place more than 20 years ago on August 11, 1999.

However, due to cloudy weather many were able to see the event, including Sir Patrick Moore who was covering the event life for the BBC.

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Is it dangerous to look directly at a solar eclipse?

In short, yes, it’s always very dangerous to look directly into the sun as it enables ultraviolet (UV) light to flood your retinas, a process that can permanently damage your vision.

Astro-photographer and astronomy lecturer at the University of Sussex, Dr Darren Baskill explained: “Just think of a really nasty child with a magnifying glass who likes to burn ants using the sun.

“Then remember that you have a lens in each eye, and that if you look at the sun you’re burning your retinas in a similar way.

“It’s particularly important not to look directly at this eclipse in the UK, with it happening late morning.

“At this time, the sun is high in the sky – with less atmosphere it is brighter and could do more damage.”

The easiest way to safely look at the eclipse is to grab a colander and go outside.

Just hold it out and gaze down at the holes on the floor (place down a white piece of paper to help you see), each of which will show the crescent of the partial eclipse.

This is what’s known as a makeshift pinhole camera and is the safest way to get the full eclipse.

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