Partial Solar Eclipse 2021
Partial solar eclipse from space. Credit: ESA

Partial Solar Eclipse 2021

09/06/2021Written by Eleanor Morton

On 10 June the UK will experience a partial solar eclipse.

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A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon obscures only part of the Sun from Earth's view. Credit: NASA/T. Ruen

On 10 June an annular solar eclipse will be visible in Canada, Greenland and Siberia. This iconic spectacle will allow the UK to witness a partial solar eclipse. But what is the best way to watch this spectacle and how does it compare to a total eclipse?

What is a Partial Solar Eclipse?

What is a Partial Solar Eclipse?
Photos show how the Moon moved across the Sun in 2019. Credit: Getty
What is a Partial Solar Eclipse?
Annular eclipse. Credit: timeanddate.com

Solar eclipses are one of the most sought-after experiences on the planet. The Moon passes between us and the Sun and lines up perfectly to cover our star and block its light. This is called a total solar eclipse.

The annular eclipse visible in Canada and Greenland on 10 June 2021 will be slightly different. The Moon will be too far away to block out all of the Sun’s light and so a ‘Ring of Fire’ is created. The last time the UK saw an annular eclipse was in 2003 and we are not due another annular eclipse until 2093.

Partial eclipses are far more common to witness, with the UK viewing one every few years.

A partial eclipse occurs when the Moon is seen to only partially cover the Sun allowing a section of the Sun’s light to be blocked. The amount of the Sun’s light blocked by the Moon depends on where in the world you’re viewing from.

In the UK, the best place to view a partial eclipse is in the North of Scotland where you can see almost 50% coverage of the Sun at the eclipse’s maximum.  The eclipse will occur late in the morning in the UK, with the specific time of the eclipse dependent on your location. At the National Space Centre in Leicester, the Moon will obscure 22.9% of the Sun’s light and will last for almost two and a half hours, beginning at 10:07 and coming to an end at 12:25, with the maximum eclipse at 11:14 (all times BST).

How to view the Partial Eclipse

How to view the Partial Eclipse
A map of the UK and northern Europe shows the percentage of the Sun covered during the partial solar eclipse on 10 June 2021. Credit: Paul Wootton
How to view the Partial Eclipse
Special eclipse glasses. Credit: PA

When viewing a solar eclipse you should never look directly at the Sun as this can cause serious eye damage. However, there are a few ways to safely observe the partial eclipse so you can enjoy it without harm.

1. Eclipse glasses are the easiest way to observe a solar eclipse. They block out 99.9% of the Sun’s visible light and all ultraviolet and infrared light. They can be tricky to get hold of so if you don’t have a pair why not try one of these homemade methods!

2. A colander is a really simple way to watch an eclipse. Just hold it so that the light from the Sun shines through the holes in the Colander onto a piece of paper or another flat surface. Then watch as the holes turn into miniature crescents when the eclipse takes place.

3. Another way to safely view the partial eclipse is with a Pinhole viewer or by projecting the eclipse through a pair of binoculars or telescope onto a piece of paper. If you do decide to use either of these methods then we recommend you read the Royal Astronomical Society’s guide on viewing solar eclipses safely to make sure that you’re viewing the eclipse correctly.

This partial eclipse is a spectacle not to be missed. Solar eclipses have been big events for centuries and are one of the most exciting astronomical events that can be seen right here on Earth. Don’t miss your chance to see it on Thursday 10 June 2021.