Eclipse bites 40pc chunk from sun

Alan O'Keeffe

A SOLAR eclipse that obscured 40pc of the morning sun today resulted in a particularly dull morning for back-to-work commuters.

While significant numbers of people travelled back to their first day at work this morning after the festive season, their journeys were gloomier than usual.

But Astronomy Ireland members were delighted with the opportunity to observe the eclipse.

They say the partial solar eclipse will be unmatched as the astronomical highlight of 2011.

The rising sun was partially obscured by the moon for an hour after sunrise between 8.30am and 9.30am.

Those whose views were not obscured by overcast conditions saw a chunk "bitten" out of the left side of the sun.

The phenomenon -- affecting 40pc of the sun in Ireland -- was visible to people under clear skies.

The eclipse was visible for those who had a clear north-eastern horizon, particularly on the east coast.

David Moore, chairman of Astronomy Ireland, said the eclipse was the last that will be seen from Ireland for the next four years, with the next not due until March 2015.

In Dublin, Astronomy Ireland held an eclipse watch from 8.15am at the Howth summit car park.


While the eclipse in Ireland obscured about 40pc of the sun, locations on the globe further north witnessed the eclipse taking bigger bites out of the sun. In Scandinavia, up to 85pc of the sun was eclipsed.

The usual alerts were issued warning eclipse observers not to look directly into the sun to avoid the possibility of permanent sight damage.

Last month there was a total lunar eclipse which coincided with the sun rising on the shortest day of the year, December 21.