IT IS BEING described as a wondrous spectacle that will not been seen again in the skies above Yorkshire for more than a decade.
The near total solar eclipse will offer the chance to witness the Moon move in front of the Sun during rush hour on Friday morning.
However, experts have warned of the real danger of permanent damage to vision if people fail to take the necessary precautions.
And there is also a chance that a spell of cloudy weather might deprive sky watchers in the county from being able to see anything at all.
Children, who will be starting school during the eclipse, could be especially at risk. Looking directly at the Sun, even if most of it is obscured, can result in the retina being burned.
Yorkshire eye surgeon Milind Pande urged viewers of the forthcoming eclipse to stay safe and use protective eyewear.
He said: “Solar retinopathy is caused by looking directly at the Sun and can cause permanent sight loss. The forthcoming eclipse will put those who are tempted to view the phenomenon without wearing protective eyewear at risk of serious eye damage.
“Only a fraction of a second of magnified, unfiltered Sunlight can irreparably sear the eye’s retina.” Around the UK the proportion of the Sun covered by the moon will increase towards the north, ranging from 84 per cent in London to 88 per cent in Hull, 93 per cent in Edinburgh, and 97 per cent in Lerwick in the Shetland Isles.
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 9.35am.
The last solar eclipse of such significance happened on August 11, 1999, and was “total” – with all of the Sun covered – when seen from Cornwall.
Another “deep” partial eclipse visible in the UK will not happen until August 12, 2026 and the next total eclipse not until September 2090.
Total solar eclipses can be seen somewhere on Earth every 18 months on average, but are considered rare events that recur at any given location just once every 360 to 410 years.
Events are planned around the country to mark the occasion.
York University’s Astrocampus is running a week of space-themed activities culminating in the chance to see the solar eclipse from 8.45am.
Members of Whitby and District Astronomical Society will be hosting an eclipse event from the bandstand on Pier Road. The mid eclipse is expected there at 9.37am.
The society’s Mark Dawson said: “Few phenomena rival this wondrous spectacle. It is a magnificent and coincidental outcome of planetary orbital mechanics, as our nearest star is occulted by the moon causing its shadow to cut a swath across a part of our globe.”
However, the latest weather forecast could spell bad news for the county.
A forecaster for the MeteoGroup told The Yorkshire Post that a cloudy spell is expected from 8am onwards on Friday and might not clear up until the afternoon.
He said: “This is subject to change but at the moment it looks like a cold front will mean solid cloud in Yorkshire around the time of the eclipse.”
He suggested that people viewing in Scotland might have a better chance.