Caithness - a good 'sight' for tomorrow morning's partial solar eclipse

A rare partial solar eclipse is seen at 10.23 over Burford

A rare partial solar eclipse is seen at 10.23 over Burford

An eclipse happens when the moon lines up between the earth and the sun, leaving a shadow on earth. As a result, the size of the moon and the size of the Sun correlate nearly perfectly - except that the Moon's distance from the Earth varies by about 10 percent, depending on whether it's at perihelion (closest to us) and aphelion (farthest away). If it is at its closest point to Earth then it can block out most of the Sun's rays - a total eclipse.

This occurs when the sun, moon and Earth are aligned. In places that fall directly along the eclipse's path, in this case parts of Canada, Greenland and northern Russian Federation, skywatchers will see an annular eclipse - when the Moon blocks out all of the sun except its fiery outer edges, earning it the name "ring of fire".

Astrologists are not expecting to see the moon itself, but people should be able to see the silhouette when it overlaps the sun as onlookers will be looking at it from the shadowed side.

For those getting a partial view of the eclipse, the sun will look dented, crescent-shaped, and even ring-shaped, according to

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Very few people will be able to catch that, but people in the eastern US should be able to see a partial eclipse at dawn.

However, observers in the United Kingdom and Ireland will see a crescent Sun instead of a ring, as this will be a partial eclipse.

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Locations in the north of Britain will get the best viewing of today's event - in Shetland, the nation's most northerly island group, it's expected that 39 per cent of the sun will be covered by the moon.

You should never look at the sun before, during or after an eclipse without protective eyewear.

It's estimated that tomorrow we'll see approx 31% of the sun obscured by the moon. When light has to travel longer distances through the gases in our atmosphere, much of the shorter, bluer wavelengths get absorbed and scattered, while longer, redder wavelengths reach our eyes.

In addition, the rising sun may appear larger to our eyes than it actually is.

Whether you are viewing a partial or annular eclipse, you'll need to bring verified solar filter glasses to protect your eyes from injury.

It is also not wise not to look at the Sun through binoculars, telescopes or a telephoto lens on an SLR camera. "This produces spectacular sunrise colors but also means there's more chance of clouds blocking the view".

And if you miss this event, additional opportunities to see a solar eclipse will occur in the coming years. At any given point along the path, the eclipse will be visible for a maximum length of 3 minutes and 51 seconds.

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