19 Mar 2015

The solar eclipse: but will cloudy skies spoil it?

I’ve been looking forward to Friday’s partial solar eclipse for some time. It still never ceases to amaze me that the perfect distance between us and the moon allows for such an awesome spectacle to take place.

However, when it comes to relying on the weather, at the back of my mind, I’ve always known that a morning in March is not a good time for a solar eclipse to take place in the UK.

As all eyes turn to the skies and the excitement builds, there is just one final part of the jigsaw that needs to fall in place: the British weather.

While the weather computer models were fluctuating with their predictions for Friday’s eclipse earlier this week, the forecast is now starting to become more certain. And sadly, for some places at the moment, it’s not good.

Weather fronts and cloud

Eearly on Friday, low pressure is going to pass just to the north of Scotland, draping a weather front and lots of cloud across Scotland and Northern Ireland.mist_morning_g_wp

These, of course, are the areas which will experience the greatest partial solar eclipse, with 90 per cent or more of the sun covered by the moon.

For the rest of the UK, high pressure will remain, but as is often the case in spring, clear skies overnight will allow mist and low cloud to form.

With the eclipse happening so early, it may be the case that this low cloud doesn’t clear in time for the peak of it to be visible. Although there’s a better chance of the cloud clearing in time to catch the end of it.

Looking at the latest forecast, the best chance of catching a glimpse may well be in a zone stretching from north east England (Humber southwards), through the Midlands, Wales and south west England.

Is the forecast likely to change?

cloudy_scotland_g_wpDetails that are likely to change slightly are the amount of mist and low cloud across East Anglia and south east England on Friday morning. If it clears sooner than expected, there could be some sunshine at the time of maximum eclipse.

Unfortunately for Scotland and Northern Ireland, cloudy skies look set to dominate, although there is a chance the there could be a few small breaks in the cloud for coastal parts of Aberdeenshire.

Finally, spare a thought for the Faroe Islands, where a total solar eclipse will happen on Friday.

The latest forecast is still touch and go, with some cloud around at the time of totality. However, with some cloud breaks at times, they should catch a glimpse.

An important reminder – never look at the sun directly unless you’re wearing a pair of special eclipse glasses!

I’ll be keeping a close eye on any changes in the forecast and posting regular updates on Twitter – @liamdutton

Tweets by @liamdutton

7 reader comments

  1. Louise says:

    Do you know what time the eclipse will happen? Fingers crossed for a break in the clouds. Is it true we will see a supermoon the night before?

    1. Barleymow says:

      Times will also vary. In London, the eclipse begins at 8.24am, reaches its maximum extent at 9.31am, and ends at 10.41am. For observers in Edinburgh, the eclipse starts at 8.30am and peaks at 9.35 am.

      1. Louise says:

        Thanks for info

  2. SabotagedFool says:

    Going so dark in the day would still be an experience in the Faroe Islands, cloud or not! And as I discovered the other day, (when seeing if the eclipse would be blocked by a big tree only for that endeavour to be blocked by cloud) its still worth watching cus it only takes a localised thinning of the cloud and BOOM, once in a lifetime wonder!

  3. Ashley Haworth-Roberts says:

    Solar eclipses occur at NEW moon NOT at FULL moon. Thus the answer is a resounding ‘no’.

  4. Ashley Haworth-roberts says:

    I must correct my preceding submitted comment. Yes there IS a supermoon (moon closest in its orbit around Earth) this week. But the moon itself will not be visible either Thursday or Friday.

    A major geomagnetic storm is hitting Earth today and Lancaster University Aurora Watch are predicting that (cloud permitting) the northern lights will probably be visible tonight in Scotland, northern England, north Wales and Northern Ireland. (This would follow a recent Loch Ness meteor which somebody photographed.)

  5. Ashley Haworth-Roberts says:

    I mean that during the eclipse on Friday morning the moon will be invisible and only its outline, obscuring much of the sun, will be detectable (I assume that a thin new moon crescent will appear in the western sky on Friday evening).

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