Science & Environment

Skygazers see partial eclipse

Partial eclipse in 2011 Andy Green
Image caption BBC News readers have submitted impressive images from past solar eclipses

Skygazers have observed a partial solar eclipse, visible on Wednesday across parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

The eclipse was seen in northern parts of China, Japan, Siberia, Scandinavia, Scotland, Iceland and Canada.

The eclipse shadow hit the Earth in northern China and Siberia at 1925 GMT.

The point of greatest eclipse occured in western Siberia about two hours later.

Partial eclipses occur when the Earth, Moon and Sun are almost exactly aligned and the Moon blocks out part of the bright surface of the Sun.

This one could be seen from most of Alaska and northern Canada.

The southern limit of the penumbra (the part of the shadow where a partial eclipse is visible) followed a curve from just south of Fairbanks to central New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

In the UK, observers had to be located in either the northernmost part of the Shetland Islands or on the north-west coast of Lewis.

But observations were challenging from all locations.

For example, at Skaw in Shetland, the eclipse began at around 2105 GMT and remained visible for just under 10 minutes.

Observers were able to see a 4% blackout of the Sun as it set.

At the Butt of Lewis, the prospects for observers were even more daunting. The eclipse began at 2112 GMT and was visible for just three minutes.

A 1% blackout of the Sun was visible from this location, assuming ideal conditions.

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) stressed that looking at the partially eclipsed Sun without appropriate eye protection causes serious and permanent damage to a person's vision.

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