This Friday (20th March) marks a rare and exciting astronomical event in Europe, Northern Africa and Asia: a partial solar eclipse last witnessed on this scale in 1999. A solar eclipse, in layman’s terms is an overshadowing of the sun whereby the moon passes between the sun and the Earth blocking out the sun.

Eclissi solare, spazio terra luna sole

Unfortunately however it is an event that those in the Southern hemisphere and North America (although some parts of Canada could witness a 23% covering) will miss however it is being streamed live here for those not wanting to miss out.

Source: Time and Date

Source: Time and Date

Here are some top tips to get the best view of this phenomenon from a visual, photographic and safety point of view:

Head North:

If you’re UK based the best place to observe this spectacle is Scotland, more specifically the Isle of Lewis and Outer Hebrides where it’s estimated that 98% of the sun will be eclipsed. Those in Scandanavia, who like those in the UK will get a 90+% coverage should head to the Faroe Islands (an archipelago situated in between the Norwegian and Northern Atlantic sea) whereby a 100% blackout is to be witnessed.

Stay safe:

The urge to capture this marvel is ultra tempting, for all shutterbugs alike however stark warnings have been issued to reduce the risk of eye damage. The Royal Astronomical Society has published an in-depth guide informing how to stay safe whilst enjoying this major event.

It’s important to remember that even when your using your camera phone there will still be light spilling out from the phone coverage, which, if looked at for even a few minutes has the ability to damage your eyes permanently. A pair of specialist eclipse viewers which reduce the sun’s light by up to 100,000 are the best solution to ensure you can view the scene in full perspective.

Use a solar filter:

Camera Lenses, just like the ones in your eyes, are at risk of damage to direct sunlight exposure. It’s therefore imperative to protect both. Small filters can be placed on top of camera lenses to limit the amount of light penetrating the lens itself. It will also protect your eyes whilst looking through the viewfinder of your camera.

Snap your surroundings:

A smartphone is not the solar eclipse’s photography equipment of choice due to their small sensor and lens. It’s therefore recommended to try and capture your environment’s surroundings as the eclipse particularly in sequence as the moon slowly blankets out the sun. There are accessories you can buy for smartphones such as the olloclip for iPhone but screen size can potentially be an issue. It will offer a different perspective however.

Tell the story:

What better an event to showcase in time-lapse format than an eclipse! Start from about half an hour before the commencement of the eclipse and continue another 30 minutes after it finale to really showcase the full development. Perfect for uploading to Fotolia.

You can find more solar eclipse related imagery in this dedicated gallery here.