Spectacular Solar Eclipse Will Plunge Britain into Darkness
The most complete solar eclipse in fifteen years will plunge Britain into darkness for two hours on the morning March 20. In the darkest areas, 98% of the Sun's light will be blocked, creating a "twilight" at approximately nine-thirty in the morning.
Solar eclipses occur when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, blocking most or all of the Sun's light from our world. This particular eclipse will be so spectacular because the Moon is closer to Earth than it's been in almost two decades.
"The Earth is orbiting around the Sun and sometimes is slightly closer and sometimes further away, and the Earth is also wobbling around on its axis," said Dr Edward Bloomer, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. "Likewise the orbit of the Moon around the Earth is elliptical and slightly tilted so it's rare for the Sun, Earth and Moon to actually line up. When they do come into perfect alignment it is called the syzygy effect and when the Moon is closest to Earth you have a total eclipse. This March there is an exact alignment so nearly all of the light will be blocked out."
Northern Scotland will have the best views in the UK, with the west coast of the Isle of Lewis experiencing the most complete darkness.
"The UK will see this eclipse as a deep partial eclipse. Skies will darken for any location where the maximum obscuration exceeds 95 per cent which includes north-western Scotland, the Hebrides, Orkneys and Shetland Islands," said Steve Bell of the HM Nautical Almanac Office.
Some have been concerned about power outages during the event, as there has been an increase in solar panel usage in recent years. However, even with their increased popularity, solar power only provides 1.5% of the UK's total energy. Europe, which uses solar power for 10% of its energy needs, is at greater risk of outages, with the European Network Transmission System Operators for Electricity saying in a statement, "The risk of incident cannot be completely ruled out."