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Moon shows its dark side by 'taking bite' out of sun

THOSE returning to work this morning after the Christmas break possibly feel a little light has gone out of their lives.

If so, they are absolutely correct.

A partial solar eclipse will take place in what is being predicted as the highlight of the 2011 astronomical year.

With the rising sun partially obscured by the moon this morning, commuters who raise their heads will see a chunk 'bitten' out of the left side of the sun.

The phenomenon -- which will affect 40pc of the sun -- should be visible to everyone if cloud cover is favourable and will ensure a particularly dull journey back to the workplace.

"This should be the astronomical highlight of 2011, and it only happens a few days into the year," David Moore, chairman of Astronomy Ireland, said yesterday.

This eclipse will be the last to be seen from Ireland for the next four years, with the next not due until March 2015.

"We finished one year with an amazing lunar eclipse (December 21), and we'll begin another with a breathtaking solar eclipse," Mr Moore added.


"We expect that millions of people will see this astronomical event as they commute to work. Maybe it will be taken as a sign of a new dawn for Ireland as we head into a new decade?"

Astronomy Ireland says the time to see the eclipse will be in the hour after sunrise -- about 8.30am to 9.30am.

While Ireland-based observers will see about 40pc of the sun eaten away by the moon, many capital cities will see in excess of 50pc.

"The farther north you are in Europe, the more of the sun you will see covered," eclipse chaser Alan Dyer explained.

The moon will blot out 85pc of the sun as seen from Scandinavian countries, but nowhere will experience a total eclipse.

Astronomy Ireland also warned everyone to take due care when observing the eclipse and said observers should never look directly into the sun.

Irish Independent