Watford left in the dark: Biggest solar eclipse in 16 years
On Friday 20th March, there will be a partial eclipse in Britain when the moon crosses in front of the sun in a rare alignment, the closest the moon has been to the Earth in 18 and a half years. The eclipse will be the biggest in Europe since August 11th, 1999, when the moon crossed directly in front of the sun and a total eclipse occurred. In this case however, 85% of the sun will be covered in London and 98% will be covered in Northern Scotland. This makes it a partial eclipse as not all of the sun will be blocked from view. In WGGS school, pupils of the Astronomy club, Mr Hutchinson’s year 9 form and his science class will be going outside to view the eclipse via eclipse glasses and pinhole cameras. These methods will stop them from looking directly at the sun which would burn the retinas that are positioned at the back of the eye. Experts have warned people not to take selfies, or images with a camera because whilst it is not dangerous in itself to look at pictures and images of the eclipse, it is very easy to accidently look around the edge of a phone or camera and see the sun directly and damage your eyes. People all over the country will be outside to watch it. However, if the sky is cloudy or rainy then the sight will be blocked for most British stargazers and anyone who wants to watch the event will have to stay indoors and watch it on TV with BBC stargazing footage. At 8.40 a.m, the sky will start darkening as the sunlight is blocked, although the most of the sun will be blocked at 9.31 a.m before the event is over at 10.41 a.m. The reason that this event is so special is that it is very unusual and only occurs in Europe very occasionally. This will actually be the last eclipse in Europe until 2081, and the last to be seen in the U.K until 2090. The eclipse may also cause blackouts across parts of Europe due to the increase in solar power energy - but probably not in the UK. In the last 16 years, green energy in Europe has gone from being 0.1% of total power used to being 10.5% , although England is likely to be unaffected since only 1.5% of its energy is solar powered. Germany will be most affected by the loss of solar power since it uses 35.5 GW (gigawatts, a billion watts), and uses the most solar energy in Europe. It is followed by Italy (17.6 GW), whilst Britain is far behind with 10 GW (in 10th place internationally). This eclipse will be a stunning event, although it needs to be viewed correctly, and will not occur again for decades. This eclipse will be a highlight of 2015!
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