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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Partial eclipse of Sun seen in UK
Find out more about the route of the eclipse across the Earth

Skywatchers in the UK have watched a partial eclipse of the Sun.

During the solar phenomenon, the Sun was between 10 and 20% eclipsed, with south-east England and East Anglia seeing most of the event.

The eclipse began at 1045 BST if viewed from London, and ended in the skies above the UK about 100 minutes later.

England's chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson had warned that looking directly at the Sun can severely damage the eyes and even cause blindness.

Viewing the Sun's harsh light should only be done through protective equipment - proper solar glasses or through a pinhole projection system.

Total solar eclipse over Bucharest on 11 August 1999   Image: AP/Vadim Ghirda
Viewers had been warned not to look directly at the sun

Tens of thousands of tourists were expected to travel to the Turkish Mediterranean coast, where the eclipse will be total.

Astronomers from the US space agency (Nasa) and Britain's Royal Institute of Astronomy have been watching the eclipse from a Roman amphitheatre in Turkey.

Earlier, Royal Observatory Greenwich senior astronomer Dr Robert Massey told the BBC News website: "Eclipses are such rare and spectacular events that people are prepared to travel long distances to see them. I know of one tour alone that has 1,200 people booked.

"Solar eclipses are the ultimate astronomical show.

"It's up there with the highest-rated television programme. If there is one thing you do to do with astronomy in your lifetime, go and see a solar eclipse.

I think it's such a special event that you can't help but be moved by it
Robert Massey, Royal Observatory Greenwich

"Day turns into night. Suddenly, in place of this brilliant Sun, you have something like a flower opening. You see the corona - the outer atmosphere of the Sun - radiating behind the dark silhouette of the Moon.

"It's indescribable - utterly beautiful. I think it's such a special event that you can't help but be moved by it."

The next total solar eclipse will be on 1 August, 2008, over a track stretching across North America, Europe and Asia. The path of totality will swing across Greenland, Siberia, Mongolia and China.

Over the past 25 years there have been 16 total solar eclipses, a rough average of one every 18 months.

The last total eclipse took place on 23 November, 2003, but was visible only from a part of Antarctica.

How a total eclipse happens (BBC)

Skywatchers await total eclipse
28 Mar 06 |  Science/Nature
Antarctic witnesses total eclipse
24 Nov 03 |  Science/Nature
White Continent to go black
21 Nov 03 |  Science/Nature
Millions wonder at southern eclipse
04 Dec 02 |  Science/Nature


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