Solar eclipse 2021: UK skygazers enjoy view of crescent sun

People across the UK were treated to views of a crescent sun on Thursday morning as the moon appeared to partially block out the star.

An annular eclipse – when the sun and moon are in line with the Earth and the moon appears slightly smaller, creating a phenomenon known as the “ring of fire” – was visible on Thursday from places such as Canada, Greenland and northern Russia.

In the unlikely event that anyone was watching from the Nares Strait, between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Greenland, they would have experienced an eclipse lasting almost four minutes – a duration longer than anywhere else.

Nel frattempo, observers in the UK and Irlanda, as well as locations ranging from the Caribbean to northern Africa, got a view of a crescent sun – a partial eclipse.

In places such as Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, skygazers saw about 40% of the sun eclipsed at the height of the event, with the best views shortly before 11.20am. In central and south-east Inghilterra, nearly a third of the sun was blocked out.

Paul Galletly, 48, from London, told PA that clear skies had allowed him to take good photos of the spectacle. “Outside my third-floor flat, I stood on the walkway, looked up and glimpsed the eclipse first on my mobile, and then tried my luck with the Canon camera and got the shot I wanted," Egli ha detto.

Brandon Berkoff, 15, who watched the eclipse from a beach on Long Island, New York, described the event as beautiful. “This was the first solar eclipse that I’ve ever seen and it definitely lived up to my expectations," Egli ha detto. “I woke up at about 5am and got there right as the sun got above the horizon. Once I got my telescope set up and ready, it was super-enjoyable to watch it pass through the clouds and take pictures.”

Dr Emily Drabek-Maunder, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said the partial eclipse in the UK began at 10.08am and ended at 12.22pm.

Tania De Sales Marques, also an astronomer at the Royal Observatory, disse: “Next year, in October 2022 … there will be another partial eclipse, it will have larger coverage elsewhere, but from the UK we will only see between 15% [in London] per 37% [elsewhere in the UK] of the sun being covered. The next total eclipse that we can see from the UK will be in the year 2090.”

Experts warned that looking at the partially eclipsed sun without appropriate protection could cause serious and permanent damage to the eyes. Anziché, observers were encouraged to view the event using a pinhole projector, solar eclipse viewing glasses or special solar filters that can fit over telescopes.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich livestreamed the eclipse on its website and YouTube channel, and captured a few glimpses of the eclipse at its maximum. De Sales Marques said the event was captivating for astronomers.

“Even though we talk about these things and we have seen them before, it is actually just as exciting as for anyone else to just look at the sun – not directly, of course – and actually seeing that process happen, that natural event happen, where the moon is, from our perspective, blocking a little bit of that solar disc," lei disse.

“The laws of nature we understand very well, ma [when it is] happening in front of you, you are seeing that relationship between Earth, moon and sun just in real time.”

De Sales Marques said she watched the event alongside colleagues, waiting for a break in the clouds – which was duly celebrated. “You almost feel that sort of excitement and joy like children do," lei disse. “ It makes you feel like a child looking at something that is just magical, almost.”

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