Millions enjoy ‘eerie’ eclipse

Millions have turned out to witness Britain enter the twilight zone of a near-total solar eclipse, despite much of the country being covered by cloud.

Some lucky sky-watchers got to experience the full extent of the event as the moon crossed in front of the sun, covering up to 97 per cent of its face.

An eclipse of the sun over Northumberland, as a near-total eclipse of the sun is set to thrill or disappoint millions today, depending on luck and the fickle British weather. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 20, 2015. Forecasters believe that Lincolnshire and the Midlands through to southern parts of Wales might be treated to the best celestial show as the moon moves in front of the sun at around 9.30am, covering up to 97% of its surface. See PA story SCIENCE Eclipse. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

An eclipse of the sun over Northumberland, as a near-total eclipse of the sun is set to thrill or disappoint millions today, depending on luck and the fickle British weather. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 20, 2015. Forecasters believe that Lincolnshire and the Midlands through to southern parts of Wales might be treated to the best celestial show as the moon moves in front of the sun at around 9.30am, covering up to 97% of its surface. See PA story SCIENCE Eclipse. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

One of the best vantage points was in South Gloucestershire, where amateur astronomer Ralph Wilkins described the “eerie” feeling as a chilly gloom descended and shadows sharpened.

Elsewhere there were reports of birds “going crazy” and flocking to trees, confused by the fading light.

For much of the UK, the eclipse revealed itself as an abnormal level of darkness at 9.30am in the morning while the sun remained hidden behind a blanket of cloud.

But there were pockets of clear skies over Wales, parts of the West Country and the Midlands, and eastern Scotland around Edinburgh.

Around the UK, the proportion of the sun covered by the moon increased towards the north, ranging from 84 per cent in London to 89 per cent in Manchester, 93 per cent in Edinburgh and 97 per cent in Lerwick in the Shetland Isles.

Times also varied. In overcast London, the eclipse began at 8.24am, and reached its maximum extent at 9.31am. For observers in Edinburgh, it started at 8.30am and peaked at 9.35 am.

The last solar eclipse of such significance occurred on August 11, 1999, and was “total” - with 100 per cent of the Sun covered - when seen from Cornwall.

Another “deep” partial eclipse visible in the UK will not occur until August 12, 2026, and the next total eclipse not until September 2090.

Send us your photos from today’s eclipse to tegan.chapman@jpress.co.uk