Tomorrow morning Britain will be plunge into a morning twilight as we experience a partial eclipse of the sun! How exciting, the last full eclipse (which is a very rare event) took place in 1999, and I remember exactly what I was doing; it was the school holidays and I was at home with our cleaner Carol, using our Blue Peter styled pinhole camera to watch the event. Don’t worry though, if you miss this one you will only have to wait until 12th August 2026 for the next partial eclipse or until 2081 until the next total eclipse in Britain.
So what is a solar eclipse? It is when the moon moves directly between the Sun and Earth, casting its shadow onto Earth’s surface. Those in the centre of the shadow will get to experience the full eclipse. The best place tomorrow to view the eclipse will be in Northern Scotland, in London we will get an 85-90% eclipse. It should begin at 8:25am, hit its peak at 9:31am and finish by 10:41am.
If you don’t have special eclipse glasses (normal sunglasses wont protect your eyes) to view the event you can make your own pinhole camera using common household objects. I cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to look directly at the sun during the eclipse. The suns rays are so powerful that they can burn the back of your retina and cause blindness.
To make your own pinhole camera you will need:
- 2 pieces of paper
- Tin foil
1.Cut a hole in the middle of one of your pieces of paper
4. As the eclipse takes place put the intact piece of paper on the ground. Stand with your back to the eclipse and hold up the paper with the foil on it. The image of the eclipse should appear on the paper on the ground. The further away you hold the paper from the ground the bigger the projected image will be. You can also try putting the paper on the ground in the shade so that the image will be more defined.
You can also use a mirror to reflect the image onto a pale wall, however you decide to watch the eclipse tomorrow be smart and be safe. Happy viewing everyone.