By Nilima Marshall, PA Science Reporter
A partial solar eclipse now under way in Ireland and around the world as the moon begins to pass between the Earth and the sun.
Skygazers will soon be able to see nearly a third of the sun being blocked out by the moon in what is known as an annular eclipse.
But views of the event will be “somewhat fleeting” across many parts of the Ireland due to cloudy skies, forecasters have said.
An annular eclipse occurs when the sun and moon are exactly in line with the Earth, but the apparent size of the moon is smaller than that of the sun.
This causes the sun to appear as a very bright ring, or annulus, in a phenomenon dubbed as the “ring of fire”.
Weather permitting, observers in Ireland will see a crescent sun instead of a ring, as this will be a partial eclipse.
Dr Emily Drabek-Maunder, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London, said the “ring of fire” will be seen from Russia, Greenland and northern Canada.
The partial eclipse visible in Ireland will end at 12.22pm.
Even though a large part of the solar disc will be covered, looking at the partially eclipsed sun without appropriate protection can cause serious and permanent damage to the eyes.
Dr Drabek-Maunder said: “Never look at the sun directly or use standard sunglasses – it can cause serious harm to your eyes.”
It is also not wise to look at the sun through binoculars, telescopes or a telephoto lens on an SLR camera.
Dr Drabek-Maunder suggests using a simple pinhole projector, solar eclipse viewing glasses – which can be purchased online – or special solar filters which can fit on telescopes, in order to observe the eclipse.
She said: “You can make a projector by poking a small hole into a piece of card.
“Hold the card up to the sun so that light shines through the hole and on to a piece of paper behind the card.
“You will be able to see the shape of the sun projected on to the piece of paper and watch its shape change as the moon passes in front of the sun.”