For the best view of the solar spectacle of the year, Svalbard eclipsed the Faeroe Islands. Sky-gazers in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard popped champagne corks, oohed and aahed as they witnessed a total solar eclipse Friday under perfect weather conditions. A clear sky over the Arctic islands offered a full view of the sun’s corona — a faint ring of rays surrounding the moon — that is only visible during a total eclipse. “I was just blown away. I couldn’t believe it,” said Hilary Castle, a 58-year-old visitor from London.
Meanwhile, a blanket of clouds blocked thousands of people from experiencing the full effect in the Faeroes in the North Atlantic — the only other place on land where the eclipse was total. About 20,000 visitors had traveled to the two island groups to watch the spectacle. lRelated Polar bear attacks tent in Norway’s Arctic, injures tourist “Well it was very close,” said Fred Espenak, a retired NASA scientist visiting the Faeroe Islands. “If the eclipse had been 25 minutes later, it would have been fantastic. But the clouds ruined it for us. So I’m very disappointed.”
A solar eclipse happens when the moon lines up between the sun and the Earth. This casts a lunar shadow on the Earth’s surface and obscures the sun. During a partial eclipse, only part of the sun is blotted out. In the northern Faeroes, Sigrun Skalagard said birds went silent and dogs started howling when the daylight suddenly disappeared. “Some people were surprised to see how fast it became dark,” she said. The total eclipse lasted for 2 minutes and 45 seconds in the Faeroes. In Svalbard, less than 620 miles from the North Pole, a few hundred people had gathered on a flat frozen valley overlooking the mountains, and people shouted and yelled as the sudden darkness came. A group of people opened bottles of champagne, saying it was in keeping with a total solar eclipse tradition.
“It was just fabulous, just beautiful and at the same time a bit odd and it was too short,” said Mary Rannestad, 60, from Minnesota. A partial solar eclipse could be seen across Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. Britain’s Met Office said 95 percent of the sun was covered in the Hebrides, Orkneys and Shetland Islands, and one percent less further south in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Cloudy weather put a lid across large parts of the continent, making it hard to see the eclipse. However, a thin cloud cover allowed people in Stockholm to watch the eclipse without protective glasses, as the faint disk of the sun could be seen through the overcast sky, according to Chicago Tribune.