It’s heavenly show time on Thursday, as much of the northern hemisphere is witnessing a solar eclipse.
This particular event is called an annular eclipse. It will see the Moon moving on the face of our star but will not completely block the light coming from it.
Instead, there will only be a thin burst of shine left to shine around the sun disk.
The best of the action will be in the Arctic.
Yes, few people live there, but a good part of the globe will always experience a partial eclipse where the Moon seems to take a big bite out of the Sun
This will include the eastern United States and northern Alaska, as well as much of Canada, Greenland, and parts of Europe and Asia.
In the UK, the most favorable place to look, in terms of the percentage of the sun’s disk that is covered, will be in Scotland – somewhere like Lerwick in the Shetland Islands (11:27 BST), or Stornoway on the island by Lewis (11:18 BST)
These places will see about 40% of the Sun eclipse.
But even in the south, in London (11:13 BST) for example, 20% of the star will be covered.
As always, the advice is not to try to look at the Sun with the naked eye. It can cause serious damage.
Anyone looking skyward should only do so using protective gear, such as approved eclipse glasses or a pinhole projector.
Better yet, attend an organized event. Local astronomy clubs will be out in force to show people how to safely view the eclipse.
There’s great advice here from BBC Sky At Night magazine, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the Society for Popular Astronomy.
The so-called “path of annularity” – the trail across the surface of the Earth where the Moon sits entirely within the Sun’s disk to give the greatest spectacle – begins at sunrise in Ontario, Canada, at 09:49 GMT (10:49 BST).
It then sweeps across the top of the globe, including the North Pole, eventually reaching the Russian Far East and taking off from the planet at sunset at 11:33 GMT (12:33 BST).
The place with the longest lasting eclipse – lasting almost four minutes – is in the middle of Nares Strait, the narrow channel that separates the Canadian archipelago from Greenland.
However, there will be little to see 90% of the solar disk blocked. Maybe just a few walruses or two on an ice floe.
For all other locations there are plenty of calculators where you can enter the nearest city or town to get more relevant times like here.
Not all eclipses can be total. The Moon’s orbit around the Earth is not perfectly round; the satellite’s distance to the planet ranges from about 356,500 km to 406,700 km (221,500 to 252,700 miles).
This difference causes the apparent size of the Moon in the sky to fluctuate by about 13%.
If the Moon eclipses the Sun on the side near its orbit, it completely blocks the star (a total eclipse). But if the Moon eclipses the Sun on the other side of its orbit, like now, the satellite will not completely obscure the star’s disk – and a “ring of fire” or ring of sunlight will appear.
But no less wonderful.
“An eclipse gives us the opportunity to connect with the Sun,” said Professor Lucie Green of the Space Science Laboratory at UCL Mullard.
“Normally our star is so dazzling that we don’t pay much attention to it. But during an eclipse of one form or another, we are able – if we look carefully – to watch the moon hover. in front of the Sun and let’s remember this mechanical solar system we live in, ”she told BBC News.