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The Lazy Person's Guide To Watching The Solar Eclipse

Here's all the information you need to watch tomorrow's solar eclipse, even if you'll be stuck at your desk.

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Only the Faroe Islands and Svalbard, Norway, are getting the total eclipse experience, but part of the UK will be 97% there. According to the Royal Astronomical Society:

In London the partial phase of the eclipse begins at 08:25 GMT. Maximum eclipse is at 09:31 GMT when 85% of the Sun will be blocked. The eclipse ends at 10:41 GMT.

From Edinburgh 93% of the Sun will be covered and from Lerwick in the Shetland Isles, the Moon will obscure 97% of the solar disk.

Get ready for the ~science bit~.

A solar eclipse happens when the moon comes in between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth and plunging us into darkness for a short period of time.

These two GIFs show exactly how that's going to go down. The black dot that appears in the first animation shows where the eclipse will be visible in full, and the larger shadow shows the partial eclipse's coverage. The second animation shows the same thing closer up.

It's a rare opportunity (the next significant solar eclipse visible from the UK won't happen until 2026) but you need to be prepared to watch.

The number one thing to remember is that staring at the sun with your naked eyes is a very very bad idea. Do not do it. Even when it's 90% covered, it's still dangerous to look at.

The good news is there are plenty of options for watching that don't involve looking directly at the sun. Here are some ideas, in decreasing amounts of effort required...

1. You could make a pinhole viewer.

Royal Astronomical Society / Via ras.org.uk

All you need is:

- Two pieces of white card or paper

- A pin

Make a hole in one of the pieces with your pin. During the eclipse, stand with your back to the sun and hold the pieces of paper at least 1m apart with the pinhole piece closer to the sun. The hole acts like a lens and the light that makes it through will create an image on the other sheet of paper.

You can do something very similar with an empty cereal box – make a pinhole in one of the narrower sides, and you'll be able to see an image on the inside of the opposite side.

2. Or use a colander.

Lawcain / Getty Images

You don't even need to make the holes for a pinhole projector yourself – a household item like a colander can work really well. Just stand with your back to the sun, hold the colander up above your shoulder and face a wall or hold a sheet of paper to project the image on to.

With this method, you'll get lots of tiny eclipse images, like this:

3. Grab yourself some eclipse glasses.

Fethi Belaid / Getty Images

Finding some this late in the day might prove difficult, but if you can get your hands on a pair of eclipse glasses, they're one of the easiest ways to watch.

Just put them on and point your eyes towards the sun. But make sure they're CE marked (meaning they have to meet EU safety regulations) first.

4. Or just watch it right here!

For the super-lazy, those unable to leave their desks, or people in other parts of the world, there are a couple of livestreams you can watch:

Slooh Community Observatory

The Virtual Telescope

And of course, these will come in handy if the British weather gets the best of us and clouds ruin the view.

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