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Partial solar eclipse
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Solar eclipse 2024: when and how to see the April 8 eclipse in the UK

The total eclipse for North America is happening today – here’s all the info about the partial eclipse in the UK

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly

Solar eclipses have gotta be among the most wondrous of nature’s spectacles. They happen when the moon totally (or in our case in the UK this time, partially) blocks out the light of the sun, causing a moment of darkness (or darker skies) right in the middle of the day. 

If you’ve always wanted to glimpse some kind of solar eclipse, now’s the time to get very, very excited. A solar eclipse today (Monday, April 8) will see parts of Mexico, the US and Canada fall into the ‘path of totality’, meaning the moon will perfectly align with the sun and millions will be plunged into minutes of darkness – lots of places across the US have even issued safety warnings. Here in the UK we’ll only see a partial eclipse, meaning the sun won’t be completely blocked out. 

Total solar eclipses are rare events, and each place on Earth can only expect to see one once every 400 years. With the total eclipse in the US now only a few days away, here is everything you need to know about catching a glimpse of the partial eclipse from the UK

What time is the partial solar eclipse in the UK tonight? Path and peak times.
How to watch the solar eclipse online in the UK.
When is the next solar eclipse in the UK and how often are they?
When was the last total solar eclipse in the UK?

When is the solar eclipse in 2024? 

This particular solar eclipse will take place today, Monday, on April 8 2024. Yep, one of the planet’s most spectacular space events is happening in the next few hours. 

What exactly happens during a total solar eclipse? 

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon completely blocks the sun, leading to a period of complete darkness on a narrow stretch of the planet. Observers of a total solar eclipse are plunged into the darkest part of the moon’s shadow (the umbra) whereas partial viewers are covered by partial shade (the penumbra). 

For the 2024 total solar eclipse, the path of totality is from a patch in the Pacific Ocean just off the west coast of Mexico all the way to Newfoundland in Canada, and it’ll travel through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine before entering Canada in Southern Ontario.

What time is the solar eclipse in the UK? 

The beginning of the partial eclipse is at 7.52pm in Scotland, 7.54pm in Northern Ireland and England and 7.55pm in Wales

You can find out more about the eclipse’s path and peak times here

How long will it last? 

The eclipse will end at different times across the UK, only lasting til 8.04pm in Wales, 8.06pm in England, 8.21pm in Northern Ireland, but until 8.51pm in Scotland. 

Is there a map? 

Yes! NASA has created an interactive map so you can see how and when the eclipse will journey from Mexico, all the way across the States to Canada. You can take a look at it here

How often do solar eclipses happen? 

Total solar eclipses are super rare – they tend to only occur once every 400 years at any given location.

How to view the solar eclipse safely

The first thing to note is to never, ever look directly at the sun. However, if you’re keen to marvel at the spectacle, there are a couple of things you can do.  You can buy proper solar eclipse glasses, but they must be ISO-approved – no digging out your old 3D cinema specs. 

However, according to Royal Museums Greenwich, the best way to view the eclipse is actually to make a pinhole projector. To do this, you have to make a hole in a piece of card, hold that card up to the sun and hold a piece of paper behind the card, which’ll then show you the shape of the sun projected onto the paper – a mini version of the eclipse. 

Where will get the best views of the eclipse?

According to, these UK cities will have the best chance of seeing the partial eclipse.

  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester

What’s the visibility due to be like?

At the moment, it looks like the weather this evening won’t be great. According to the Met Office, many of the areas above (particularly in Scotland and Wales) will see rain – though the likes of Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds may stay clear. 

How to watch the eclipse livestream

If you’re in the UK but not lucky enough to be in one of the chosen cities, your best bet is likely watching NASA’s official livestream. 

You can find it here, and they’ll be streaming from 6pm BST. 

How to watch the solar eclipse online in the UK.

Why is this eclipse so special?

In the UK, this partial solar eclipse isn’t much more special than any other. In parts of the US, however, it’s a different story. Residents of Carbondale in the US state of Illinois will see their second total eclipse in just seven years (the last one happened in 2017). For context, each place on the planet is only expected to experience a total solar eclipse every 400 years.

What’s the difference between a partial and a total eclipse?

In both kinds of solar eclipse, the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. However, it’s the extent to which the moon lines up with the sun that defines whether it’s a partial or solar eclipse.

In a total eclipse, the sun is entirely covered, leaving only a circular outline ring of light; in a partial eclipse, only part of the sun will be blocked out – there won’t be a ring, and the sun won’t be completely covered. 

When is the next solar eclipse in the UK?

The last one took place on August 11, 1999, when Devon and Cornwall were in the path of totality. And sadly, we’re gonna have to wait a while. The UK won’t be experiencing a full solar eclipse until 2090, but if you’re around then, mark your calendars for September 23. 

Plus: here’s how to see the northern lights tonight in the UK

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