An eclipse is darkening parts of Europe on Friday in a rare solar event that won't be repeated for more than a decade. The eclipse - when the moon passes between the earth and the sun - follows a 5,800-kilometer path.
Skywatchers have flocked to the remote Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic and Svalbard in the Arctic for a chance to glimpse the total eclipse but it will still be visible in more populous parts of Europe.
The eclipse will be vary in degrees from about 97 percent in Iceland to about 78 percent in Paris, where experts say it will be less noticeable.
"It won't get very dark because even at 20 percent, the sun still brightens up (the sky) a lot," Patrick Rocher of the IMCCE astronomy institute in France told AFP. "What will be different is that the light will come from a crescent-shaped sun.”
In Berlin, for example, the eclipse begins at 8:39 UTC - reaching its zenith at 9:48 UTC and be over by 10:59 UTC.
An eclipse is a rare celestial event when the moon passes between the sun and earth, casting a shadow on the planet.
Eclipse chasers have flocked to the northern latitudes to see the eclipse in its totality. Some 8,000 visitors are expected in the Faroe Islands and as many 2,000 are expected in Svalbard where already one tourist was injured Thursday in a polar bear attack.
"I've seen aurora, I've seen some volcano eruptions, but the total eclipse is still the most spectacular thing I've ever seen. And each one is unique," Fred Espenak, a retired NASA astrophysicist in Torshavn, Faroe Islands, told Reuters.
Health experts warn of the dangers of looking directly at the eclipse no matter where one stands.
"Looking at a solar eclipse with the naked eye is as dangerous as watching the sun directly and without protection," AsnaV, a French association of ophthalmologists and opticians said in a statement.
Digital narcissists are also warned about how they position their cameras and phones if trying to photograph themselves during the eclipse.
"Taking a selfie could potentially put you at risk, as you may end up accidentally looking directly at the sun while aligning yourself and your phone," warned Daniel Hardiman-McCartney of Britain's College of Optometrists.
In Germany now...
Unfortunately this is what many in Europe saw...
But in Russia a few people were able to catch a glimpse...
Better to watch the eclipse online or build an eclipse viewer, experts say.
But it isn't just the eclipse that makes Friday a special celestial event. Earth's moon will appear as a "supermoon" as it passes at its closest point, adding its gravitational pull on the ocean to create stronger tides.
"The eclipse and the tide are linked," said Kevin Horsburgh, head of the Marine Physics and Ocean Climate research group at National Oceanography Centre in the UK. "And for particularly big tides, the moon needs to be directly overhead at the equator at the time."
Experts have also warned there may be a dip on solar power production on Europe's power grid.
If people miss out on Friday's event the next solar eclipse seen in Europe will be on Aug. 12, 2026.
jar/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)