TECH
25/02/2015 10:30 GMT | Updated 19/03/2015 15:59 GMT

Largest Solar Eclipse Since 1999 Will Plunge UK Into Darkness On 20 March

Europe's largest solar eclipse since 1999 is set to block out as much as 90 per cent of the sun's light in some areas of the UK.

On the 20 March at 9.30am London will lose as much as 84 per cent of its sunlight while parts of Scotland such as Edinburgh will be even darker with 94 per cent of the light blocked out.

Astronomers believe the eclipse will begin in London at around 8.30am, it'll then reach its maximum eclipse at 9.30am with normal service being resumed at around 10:40.

If of course you're not in the capital then don't worry: full information on the total solar eclipse can be found at the HM Nautical Almanac Office, giving you the exact times for each of the major cities throughout the United Kingdom.

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If you want to witness the event the most obvious concerns are also the most dangerous. Do not try and watch the event using the naked eye. Because there are no pain sensors within the eye you won't even know the damage has been done until it's too late.

Be safe, use some form of dimming lens. It's likely that they'll be available to buy or obtain closer to the date.

solar eclipse

As the moon completely covers the sun it'll cast two shadows. The smaller and darkest shadow will occur in the North Atlantic, so if you're hoping to see day turn to night, then you'll need to head as far north as the Faroe Island.

solar eclipse diagram

The rest of us however will have to make do with the second larger and weaker shadow which will cover the UK and much of Europe. This shadow is caused by a partial solar eclipse where the moon and sun are not directly in line with the Earth. Although less impressive it's still capable of removing over 90 per cent of light.

Total solar eclipses are surprisingly rare. The last one in Europe happened in 1999 and the next time you'll see a total eclipse in the UK won't be until 2090.

Thankfully there are plenty of partial eclipses between now and then with some potentially being as powerful as this one. The next eclipse will be in 2016 however this is likely to be incredibly small. For the next major eclipse you'll need to wait until 2026 where astronomers believe it'll remove as much of the light as the 20 March event.

So just what is a total solar eclipse? Space.com has created this handy diagram that should cut through the science:

When the moon covers up the sun, skywatchers delight in the opportunity to see a rare spectacle.

According to the MailOnline, energy companies have actually issued warnings of blackouts due to their new reliance on solar energy.

With 10.5 per cent of renewable energy now coming from solar power, the European grid company lobby ENTSO-E warns that as much as 35,000 megawatts of solar energy could be removed from the grid over a period of two hours.