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article imageTotal eclipse of the sun will be seen over Europe on March 20

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 27, 2015 in Science
London - Europe will experience a major solar eclipse event on the morning of 20 March. The eclipse of the sun by the moon to be seen across Europe will be the biggest solar eclipse event on the continent since August 1999.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon's orbit takes it between the sun and the Earth. As the moon moves across the face of the sun it casts a shadow over portions of the Earth and thus effectively blocks out sunlight for observers on Earth standing in the shadow.
Total eclipse will occur in northern Norway and other parts of northern Scandinavia, including the Faroe Islands. The path of totality begins in the south of Greenland at sunrise and ends to the north of Greenland at sunset, according to EarthSky
Totality is the full dark shadow of the moon cast on the Earth (see diagram) in areas where the sun and the moon are in a direct line relative to observers on Earth. It covers a smaller area than the partial eclipse. The area of the total eclipse during next month's solar eclipse will be about 100 miles wide, according to astronomer Tom Kerss of the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
The shadow of the moon cast on the Earth in the path of totality is the umbra while the penumbra is the partial shadow around the umbra that creates a partial eclipse for observers on the Earth (see diagram).
 Geometry of a total solar eclipse (not to scale)
'Geometry of a total solar eclipse (not to scale)'
According to Dr. Steve Bell, head of the HM Nautical Almanac Office, the Faroe Islands will experience about two minutes and two seconds of totality. The maximum duration of total eclipse, about two minutes 47 seconds, will occur 186 miles (300km) east of Iceland in the Norwegian Sea.
Bell noted that the theoretical maximum duration of totality is up to seven minutes 31 seconds.
"The path of totality lies well to the northwest of the UK making landfall over the Faroe Islands and Svalbard as totality moves towards the North Pole. The UK will see this eclipse as a deep partial eclipse. The place that sees the deepest partial eclipse of the sun in the UK is the west coast of the Isle of Lewis close to Aird Uig.
"Here 98 per cent of the sun will be obscured at mid-eclipse at around 9:36am GMT.
"Skies will darken for any location where the maximum obscuration exceeds 95 per cent which includes north-western Scotland, the Hebrides, Orkneys and Shetland Islands."
Much of Europe, including large swathes of North Africa and Russia, Middle East and northwestern Asia, will see a partial eclipse that lasts about 90 minutes. Many parts of Europe will have nearly 90 percent of sunlight blocked by the moon.
London will experience a partial eclipse with about 84 percent of the sun blocked out over the city. The partial eclipse over London will start when the moon reaches the edge of the sun at about 8:45 a.m. GMT. Maximum eclipse will occur at about 9:31 a.m. The eclipse will end at about 10: 41 a.m.
London will see up to 84 percent of sunlight blocked
London will see up to 84 percent of sunlight blocked
The partial eclipse thus lasts nearly two hours.
Maximum eclipse refers to the moment when the moon is closest to the center of the sun. The partial eclipse ends when the moon leaves the edge of the Sun.
The major cities in the northern parts of the British Isles in Scotland, including Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh will have about 94 percent of the sun blocked out.
Kerss told the Daily Mail that the lunar perigee, when the Earth and the moon are closest, will occur on the evening before next month's eclipse. Thus the eclipse, coinciding with the time of the Spring Equinox, is a "supermoon" eclipse.
Meanwhile, electricity operators have given warning that the eclipse could lead to disruptions of power supply and cause blackouts in some parts of Europe. This is because many European countries now obtain a greater proportion of total electricity supply from solar power compared with 1999.
Total Solar Eclipse of 2015 March 20
Total Solar Eclipse of 2015 March 20
However, the UK will experience less problems than other European countries that rely more heavily on solar power, according to the Telegraph.
In a statement, the European Network Transmission System Operators for Electricity, said: "The risk of incident cannot be completely ruled out. Solar eclipses have happened before but with the increase of installed photovoltaic energy generation, the risk of an incident could be serious without appropriate countermeasures."
Astronomers say that the next major solar eclipse event will occur in 2026.
Once again, people are advised not to view the eclipse directly with the naked eye because dangerous radiation from the sun could be damaging. The eclipse may be viewed directly only through a filter with a thin layer of aluminum, chromium or silver.
Telescopes with solar filters are also available.
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