Solar eclipse 2015 - country to plunge into darkness

The biggest solar eclipse since 1999 will plunge much of the country into darkness on Friday.

Monday, 16th March 2015, 2:55 pm

The eclipse will begin at about 8am and peak at about 9.30am before the sun will come back out at around 11am.

It will block more than 80 per cent of the sun’s light with some parts of the country being left in 99 per cent darkness.

Robin Scagell, vice-president of the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), who will be travelling on the P&O cruise ship Oriana to witness the eclipse, said the event will be “memorable” but warned people of the dangers of looking at it with the naked eye.

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He said: “We won’t experience totality in the UK, but it will still be a memorable event.

“Unlike every other eclipse of any size, this one takes place right in the middle of the rush hour. It’s not the best time from a safety point of view.

“We’ve always had this problem with partial eclipses in particular. You need to cut down the light of the sun by an enormous amount before you can look at it safely.

“Sunglasses are useless and even things like food packing and bin liners that look as if they’re made of dense material can let through infrared light and burn your retina.

“A partial eclipse is more risky by far than a total eclipse because people don’t realise that even looking at a thin sliver of sun is dangerous.

“It’s absolutely true that there is a serious risk to people’s eyesight.

“If people can’t find a way to view the eclipse correctly then they shouldn’t look because they’re likely to damage their eyes.”

West Yorkshire Astronomical Society will be opening up the Rosse Observatory in Carleton, Pontefract for the event.

The facility, on Carleton Road, will open from 8am.

Thousands of people are expected to head to north Scotland for the best viewing of the eclipse.

Up to 94 per cent of the sun’s light is expected to be blocked by the moon in parts of Scotland.

For more information on the event in Pontefract visit the society’s website at

Or for more details and timings of the eclipse visit