What to expect in Ireland during the August solar eclipse

18 Aug 2017

Image: muratart/Shutterstock

The US might be gearing up for a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse but here in Ireland, it will be a totally different story.

On 21 August, darkness will descend on much of the central continental US for the first time in nearly 40 years – or 100 in some parts of the country – due to a much-anticipated solar eclipse.

Public interest in the eclipse has been growing for months with hotel rooms along the strip where it will be its darkest – diagonally from South Carolina to Oregon – already booked up by customers from around the world.

Across the pond, however, we’re expecting a less grand affair as the alignment means that Ireland and the UK will only see a partial eclipse.

Following NASA’s handy interactive map, which has charted where the eclipse will follow, we can see that the most favourable obscuration of the sun will occur in Mizen Head, Cork at only 5.56pc.

The partial eclipse is set to start at 7.38pm (IST) that evening before reaching its maximum eclipse at 8.06pm.

Once it reaches 8.33pm, the partial eclipse will be finished and normal service will resume, which, unfortunately, nearly coincides with sunset just a few minutes later.

Solar eclipse glasses

Having the right eyewear is key to view a solar eclipse. Image: Bryan Rupp/Shutterstock

Kentucky and Illinois in for a treat

While it might be underwhelming for those of us on this side of the Atlantic, citizens in the small town of Cerulean in Kentucky will be right in the middle of the action, where the solar eclipse will be at its greatest.

This is the instant when the axis of the moon’s shadow cone passes closest to Earth’s centre, blocking out 100pc of the sun’s rays and leaving an incredible dark ring in the sky.

In the neighbouring state of Illinois at Giant City State Park, the longest duration of the eclipse is where the centre line of the totality takes place.

At this point, the eclipse is set to start at 5.52pm IST and will last for nearly three hours until 8.47pm.

Even at the greatest reaches of the US borders and in Canada, people will be able to observe half of a lunar eclipse, with just under 52pc obscuration in some points.

As for when Ireland should expect to see a solar eclipse similar in stature to the one on 21 August, there will be quite the wait, with the next one due in 2090.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic