How do I see the solar eclipse from the UK?

A partial solar eclipse will be visible on 20 March, so make sure you know where to look.

Times and positions correct for the centre of the UK but times may vary depending on your location

All images: Pete Lawrence

On the 20th the Moon will appear to pass across the face of the Sun producing a major partial solar eclipse as seen from the UK. People across the UK will be joining Stargazing LIVE and taking to the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of the wondrous sight.

In the UK the greatest partial, in terms of the area of the Sun covered by the Moon's disc, will be seen from the northwest. As you head further southeast, the amount of partial coverage decreases. From the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, the Moon covers 97.8 per cent of the Sun’s disc by area. By contrast, in the southeast of the UK, the Moon covers 82.7 per cent of the Sun. This means that from anywhere in the UK (as long as the clouds keep away) a decent partial eclipse can be seen.

As ever with the Sun, it’s imperative to observe the event in a safe way to prevent damage to your eyesight or equipment. The safest option is to use certified eclipse glasses like the ones included with you March issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Make sure you read our guide to safely watching the eclipse to make sure you’re eyes remain safe.

From the centre of the UK mainland, first contact - when the Moon’s disc makes its first impression into the Sun’s - is at 08:26 UT. Maximum eclipse is at 09:32 UT and last contact occurs at 10:41 UT when the Moon's shadow finally leaves the Earth.

These times will vary across the whole of the UK but are contained in the envelope of 08:19 UT to 10:45 UT, so the variation is not that significant. The Sun’s altitude will vary from around 17º above the horizon at the start of the event to 33º at the end. At the point of maximum eclipse the Sun and Moon will be around 26º up in the southeast. This makes this eclipse the best-placed event of its kind for some time.


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