One August in 1999, my family and I were on a beach in Sicily. The beach was shrouded in fog but it was bright, we had melon, the sea was hot, and we didn’t mind.
After slicing the melon ready for lunch, it started getting dark. The birds stopped chirruping and the sky turned a strange, overcast shade of grey. I was fascinated. After what seemed like hours it was over. Day returned, the fog cleared and the sun came back. We returned to eating our melon. The solar eclipse was over.
If you missed it or perhaps weren’t even born sixteen years ago, this Friday will see the most impressive solar eclipse since we partied like it was 1999 #Y2K.
At 08:25 the moon will pass between the Earth and the sun and light will be reduced by about 80%, until around 10:30 when the moon will have passed by. It won’t be pitch black as the sun will still be able to peek through, but an eerie kind of light will permeate. Once it’s finished, that’s it.
In fact, if you want to see this natural phenomenon again, hop on a plane to the other side of the world in about 18 months, or just wait ten years for the next one.
You’ll be able to see the eclipse from anywhere in the UK. The further north you go, the darker it’ll be, with Edinburgh seeing over 90% coverage. LUCKY.
Like any decent person, a word of warning: while my family and I stared directly at the sun in Sicily, it was foggy, and our eyes were shielded by the cloud. If it so happens that the UK gets a cloudless day (fat chance, but still) FOR THE LOVE OF PETE DON’T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. Even if you’re wearing sunglasses.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a day off work, head to Greenwich’s Royal Observatory at 8am to watch the eclipse under the safe gaze of professional astronomers.