Solar Eclipse March 20 2015

A solar eclipse is a momentous occasion. I distinctly remember one eclipse from my childhood. We all gathered at a friend’s house with the curtains closed and watched ‘Charlotte’s Web’ on VHS. We were told that if we looked at the sun we’d be blinded. We ate a cake in the shape of a lion’s head. I have no idea what relevance the cake and film choice had but I will never forget that day.

The next partial eclipse visible from the UK will be in 2026.

So, it’s a big deal. As is the case with all big deals, I am brushing up on what to tell the kiddos. If someone had properly explained what a solar eclipse was on that day some 35 years ago, I’d remember – just like I remember exactly what the cake looked like. If my mother had had the handy interweb at her disposal then, I would probably be able to tell my children about a solar eclipse now, without having to look it up!

The BBC has released the short film above with a useful set of facts and information to accompany it.

A partial eclipse is a rare and special event that will only last a short time, so we need to pay attention! The Earth and the moon have to be the right distance apart and the moon has to line up in front of the sun, thus blocking the Earth’s view of the sun. It’s like the moon is casting a giant shadow over that part of the Earth. As the Earth and moon pass on, moving through their orbits, the eclipse comes to an end.

As this is a partial eclipse, the moon will not fully cover the sun. The sky will darken but the moon will not be able to block out all of the light and the sun will be peaking around the edges.

In the United Kingdom, this amazing event will take place around 9:30 Friday morning. This eclipse will be total in some parts of the world but only partial from the United Kingdom. The eclipse will be over by 10:41 in the UK.

It is important not to look directly at the eclipse – even with sunglasses as it can affect your eyes.

Now I just have to shoehorn this little lesson in between school, supper, swim club, dog walking, homework and the bedtime! And make a cake.