Monday, 16 March 2015

'Rush-hour eclipse' on Friday morning - stay safe when driving

This Friday is the first time that an eclipse will happen during a busy modern-day commute.

Motorists have been urged not to take their eyes off the road during the eclipse as it could cause an accident.

Around the UK the proportion of the Sun covered by the Moon during the near-total solar eclipse will increase towards the North, ranging from 84 per cent in London to 89 per cent in Manchester, 93 per cent in Edinburgh, and 97 per cent in Lerwick in the Shetland Isles.

Times will also vary. In London, the eclipse begins at 8.24am, reaches its maximum extent at 9.31am, and ends at 10.41am. For observers in Edinburgh, the eclipse starts at 8.30am and peaks at 9.35 am. The last solar eclipse of such significance occurred on August 11 1999, and was “total” – with 100 per cent of the Sun covered – when seen from Cornwall.

A Highways Agency spokesperson said: “Safety is a top priority. As always, we advise road users to drive carefully, adjusting their driving according to weather and road conditions and during the eclipse we’d ask them to do the same.”

Only the Faroe Islands and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard will see a total eclipse.

Read more: UK solar eclipse 2015: When is it, what time will it start and where can I see it?
Mr Scagell explained that partial eclipses leave “a thin sliver of the sun”, which he noted can make sun-watching even more dangerous.

He added: “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.”

A primary school in Cardiff has already announced plans to ban pupils from watching the eclipse due to health and safety concerns, according to WalesOnline.

The Royal Astronomical Society and Society for Popular Astronomy have both called on the public to use safe viewing methods such as special viewing glasses and pinhole cameras. The Met Office forecasts largely clear skies on Friday, though a spokesman said some parts of the country, particularly the north-west, may see some cloud cover

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