Portsmouth gets set for the solar eclipse

Flashback to 1999 and a timelapse picture of the solar eclipse over HMS Victory
Flashback to 1999 and a timelapse picture of the solar eclipse over HMS Victory
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  • University astronomers arrange free safe viewing sessions in Guildhall Square
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It will cast a shadow over Portsmouth – but it’s being eagerly anticipated by thousands of people across the area.

Despite a forecast for cloudy conditions, the partial eclipse of the sun is expected to be easily visible tomorrow morning.

And the University of Portsmouth is hosting a free event in the Guildhall Square to enable people to view it safely.

Members of the public can join astronomers from the University’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation to safely view the partial eclipse through solar telescopes and special glasses.

Astronomers will gather between 8.30am and 10am to witness what could be the most spectacular solar eclipse to be visible from Britain for 15 years.

Astronomer Dr Jen Gupta said: ‘This event is for anyone passing by to come and observe something very exciting. ‘

The partial eclipse, which will cover the sun by around 85 per cent begins at 8.30am and will reach its maximum point at 9.28am.

‘The next good partial solar eclipse that will be visible from Portsmouth will be in 2026 so it’s worth coming along to witness something memorable.

‘Viewing it with the experts means we can ensure people do so without damaging their eyes.’

A special edition of BBC Stargazing Live will be shown on the big screen in Guildhall Square between 9am and 10am tomorrow showing live coverage of the solar eclipse.

Graphic: Met Office

Graphic: Met Office

And on Tuesday March 24, the university astronomers will be at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for the annual BBC Stargazing Live partner event, an evening of stargazing, space activities, talks and cosmology chat on board HMS Warrior and at Action 
Stations.

During that event there will be the opportunity to look through telescopes, and find out more about the universe.

Dr Gupta said: ‘We’ve organised a range of activities to suit all ages so there will be plenty to do whatever the weather.’

The Stargazing Live event runs from 6pm to 10pm.

The next good partial solar eclipse that will be visible from Portsmouth will be in 2026 so it’s worth coming along to witness something memorable

Astronomer Dr Jen Gupta

Tickets can be booked through Eventbrite: stargazingportsmouth2015.eventbrite.co.uk

Safety advice

This essential safety advice has been issued jointly by the Royal Astronomical Society and Society for Popular Astronomy.

Experts have one fundamental warning: ‘Never look directly at the sun.’ They emphasise that people should not even look directly at the sun through sunglasses or dark material, such as a bin liner or photographic negative.

And they say makeshift filters may not screen out the harmful infrared radiation that can burn the retina of the eye.

Detailed safety advice is at home.bt.com/science-news

See the latest Met Office advice here

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How to photograph the solar eclipse