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Shetland the best place in Scotland to watch partial eclipse this week

A partial solar eclipse of the sun is expected to happen on Thursday, giving some people views like this from 2010
A partial solar eclipse of the sun is expected to happen on Thursday, giving some people views like this from 2010

Scotland will be the best location in the UK to view the partial solar eclipse this week – with Shetland the best place of all to see the celestial phenomenon.

Observers in some parts of Scotland should be able to see over a third of the sun covered by the moon just after 10am on Thursday.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the earth and the sun, causing the moon to cast its shadow over the earth.

Keen astronomers are expected to head for locations which are quiet and remote to watch the event.

Remote places, like Unst on Shetland, will be best for watching the partial eclipse on Thursday

Shetland, Lochinver and Inverness top spots

North-west Scotland, under clear skies, is expected to give the best views from mainland Scotland.

Lochinver is set to have maximum obscuration of 36.8% and people in Inverness could enjoy 35% while in other parts of Scotland a 32% eclipsed Sun will be possible, compared to 30% in Belfast and only 20% in London.

Shetland, however, is expected to get the best out of the eclipse, with 39% obscuration.

Steve Mathieson, VisitScotland development manager in Shetland, said: “Unst is as far
north you can get in the UK and with its unspoilt views, amazing wildlife and rugged coastal landscape, is a stunning location from which to view the partial eclipse.

“It should provide the best opportunity to get a good glimpse of this phenomenon, as is the case each year with the Northern Lights, or Mirrie Dancers as they’re known in Shetland.”

If watching the partial eclipse, shield your eyes with special glasses or a homemade pin-hole camera

Wild Skies Shetland urges people to get involved – but be safe

Unst-based charity Wild Skies Shetland organises a variety of sky-related events to enhance enjoyment of the Northern Lights, Simmer Dim, storms, dark skies and other wonders.

As the UK’s most northerly island, July days on Unst have, on average, 19 hours of daylight, making it the perfect place to watch the eclipse.

The charity is encouraging people to get out and find somewhere to watch the event as well as selling special eclipse packs to mark the occasion.

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Jane Macaulay, of Wild Skies Shetland, said: “The further north you are, the more of the sun will be obscured by the moon. Watching from Unst, the most northerly island in the UK, folk will be in the best position in the whole country to observe the phenomenon.”

Wild Skies Shetland has put together an eclipse pack, available from their website, which includes two pairs of safe eclipse watching glasses and instructions on how to build your own pinhole camera out of a cardboard box.

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