Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Clouds hide eclipse from most of UK

A member of the Newcastle Astronomical Society tries to view the solar eclipse at Whitley Bay
A member of the Newcastle Astronomical Society tries to view the solar eclipse at Whitley Bay
Members of the Newcastle Astronomical Society with telescopes as overcast skies prevented a view of a solar eclipse
A view of a partial solar eclipse as seen from Gaza City in the Middle East (AP)

Dense cloud cover disappointed most British sky-gazers hoping to catch a glimpse of a partial solar eclipse.

The dramatic sight of the Moon passing between the Sun and the Earth could be witnessed in parts of East Anglia and the South Coast of England, as well as across the globe.

But the majority of the country remained swathed in cloud, meaning the UK's first partial solar eclipse since August 2008 was hidden from view.

Among those thwarted by the overcast conditions were members of the Newcastle Astronomical Society, who set up telescopes and recording equipment to capture the phenomenon at St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

But the cloud remained stubbornly in front of the Sun and the astronomers went away with nothing.

The Met Office said parts of East Anglia and the South Coast of England were clear, but most of the UK was overcast during the eclipse between about 8am and 9.30am.

The cloudy conditions over Britain at least reduced the chances of eclipse-watchers damaging their eyesight. Scientists had warned that looking directly at the sun for even a few seconds could cause permanent impairment to vision.

Solar eclipses occur when the moon lines up to cast a shadow on the Earth's surface that obscures the sun. Today's eclipse was visible across much of the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and central Asia.

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