On March 20th 2015 Dorset will witness a partial solar eclipse, the biggest solar eclipse in 15 years.
A solar eclipse is a type of eclipse that occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks (“occults”) the Sun.
Bruce Longstaff, honourable secretary of the Wessex Astronomical Society, said: “All of England will witness a partial eclipse of over 80%. In Dorset, maximum obscurity will be 86% at 9.30am, which makes it the most spectacular eclipse since 1999.”
Care should be taken when looking at the eclipse. Do not look at the sun with the naked eye or use sunglasses. Cameras or telescopes should not be used without a solar filter. Dr Susan Blakeney, from the College of Optometrists, said: “You should never look directly at the sun and that applies when there’s a total or partial eclipse as well. This is because the radiation emitted by the Sun is so powerful it may cause a solar burn of the retina.”
The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) state “Although eclipses of the Sun are spectacular events, they should NOT be viewed with the unaided eye except during the brief period of totality, which this time will not be visible anywhere in the UK. Despite a large part of the solar disk being covered, looking at the partially eclipsed Sun without appropriate protection can cause serious and permanent damage to the eyes.”
As such the RAS with the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA) has produced a booklet on how to safely view the eclipse that suggests a number of ways to project the solar image rather than looking at the Sun directly.
There are many great vantage points around Bournemouth and Poole for viewing the eclipse including the beaches, the Ballard Downs and Hengistbury Head, but of course anywhere where the sun is visible will do!
However if you fancy seeing the full solar eclipse then you’ll need to head further afield to either Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago, or the Faroe Islands!
Here’s hoping for clear skies!