IMAGE: TOURISM QUEENSLAND
The moment of a total solar eclipse is observed at Cape Tribulation in Queensland state, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012.
When and how to watch Friday’s total eclips…
BY JESSICA PLAUTZ & BLATHNAID HEALY
A total solar eclipse is coming on Friday, between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. GMT, and is sure to captivate people across Europe who will be able to see part of it.
The rare event will be visible in a wide swath of the Northern Hemisphere, seen as a total eclipse in the Faroe Islands and Svalbard, and as a partial eclipse all the way from Scotland to northern Africa.
IMAGE: MASHABLE, BOB AL-GREENE
The solar eclipse will occur when the sun, moon and Earth are aligned so that the moon’s shadow reaches the surface of the Earth.
If you aren’t in the path of the eclipse, you can still watch online. Check back here for a livestream of the event on Friday, and follow Mashable on Twitter, Vine and Snapchat (“mashable”) for coverage from Travel Editor Jessica Plautz, who will be in the Faroe Islands, and editors Blathnaid Healy and Tim Chester in London.
A total eclipse
“An obvious partial eclipse will be visible from every country in Europe and the partial phase will also be seen from places as widely spread as Newfoundland, North Africa and northwestern Asia,” according to Dr John Mason, a scientist who writes for Astronomy Now.
The exact time of the eclipse will vary depending on your location.
The only land areas that will see the total solar eclipse will be the Faroe Islands, which is an independent nation under Denmark, and Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible from Faroe was June 30, 1954.
The nation even has a legend about four quarreling brothers who, when the sun disappeared one day, promised God they would make up and be kind to one another if he brought the sun back. (“He” did.) Mashable’s travel editor Jessica Plautz will be on the islands with hundreds of eclipse chasers who circle the globe to witness the event.
UK and Ireland
On Aug. 11, 1999, thousands of people across the UK donned pairs of silly-looking glasses or made pinhole projectors to look on in amazement as the sun, moon and Earth lined up for a total solar eclipse.
Although there have been other partial solar eclipses visible from the UK in the intervening years, none have been quite as dramatic as the near-total eclipse happening Friday.
IMAGE: MASHABLE, BOB AL-GREENE
In the far north and northwest parts of Scotland, the sun will be obscured more than 97%. In the south of England, the sun will be up to 85% obscured.
The eclipse will last more than two hours, according to the British Astronomical Association.
Timings vary depending where you are in the UK, but first contact, or the moment when the moon starts to block the sun, will start from 8:26 a.m. with maximum eclipse at 9:31 a.m.
The whole event will be over by 10:41 a.m. As a general rule, the Royal Astronomical Society says the farther west or south you are the earlier the eclipse will begin.
The last solar eclipse (chronologically top left – bottom right), seen from London, on Aug. 8, 1999
IMAGE: MATTHEW FEARN/PA WIRE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
In Europe, as much as 90% of the sun will be obscured by the moon at the peak of the eclipse. While it will be an exciting viewing opportunity for many, it won’t be all fun and games.
In Germany, the eclipse will test the country’s solar power infrastructure. Electric utilities will have to deal with rapid swings in energy production, as the sun is obscured between about 9:30 a.m. and noon local time.
Northern Africa and Asia
Northern regions of Africa and Asia will see as much as 40% of the sun covered.
How to watch
Do not, we repeat do not, look directly at the sun. Even when just a sliver of the sun is still visible it will be enough to burn the retina, and without proper eye protection, you are risking permanent damage to your eyes or even blindness.
“No matter which recommended technique you choose, do not stare continuously at the sun. Take breaks and give your eyes a rest. And, remember, don’t use regular sunglasses — they don’t offer your eyes sufficient protection,” NASA says.
NASA says there are several ways to watch an eclipse safely and recommends projection, filters or telescopes fitted with solar filters.
A pinhole projector is also an option. Although it doesn’t let you look directly at the sun — instead at a shadow of the eclipse — it will protect your eyes so you can see the next one.
The next eclipse
The next total solar eclipse will be on March 9, 2016, and will be visible from Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi and the Pacific, and partially visible in Australia.
In 2017, a total eclipse will be visible across the contiguous United States.