• Norway's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Sun watchers flock to Svalbard for total eclipse
Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix

Sun watchers flock to Svalbard for total eclipse

AFP · 20 Mar 2015, 10:48

Published: 20 Mar 2015 10:48 GMT+01:00

Die-hard eclipse junkies flew in from around the world to the Faroe Islands and Norway's Arctic Svalbard archipelago to observe the less than three minutes of daytime darkness, a phenomenon that has fascinated mankind since the beginning of time.

Europeans got their first glimpse through cloudy skies in Spain's Canary Islands in the early morning.

"We can see perfectly well the disc of the moon... It is one of the most marvellous astronomical spectacles you can see," Alfred Rosenberg, an astrophysicist at the Canaries Astrophysics Institute told AFP from the island.

View from Svalbard. Photo: Jon Olav Nesvold / NTB Scanpix

 In the Swedish capital Stockholm a crescent-shaped sun shone through overcast skies as temperatures dropped, prompting people in the city's business district to stop and take pictures with their smartphones.

Eclipse enthusiasts were less lucky in Denmark's far-flung Faroe Islands.

"There are drifting clouds, and there is a large blue hole on the way. We've just had a quick sighting of the sun which is now almost half covered," Ole J. Knudsen, an astrophysicist at Denmark's Aarhus University told AFP from the rainy Faroe Islands capital Torshavn.

As with previous eclipses experts warned the public not to look directly at the sun due to the danger of eye damage.

Around 500 people gathered in London's Regent's Park under an overcast sky, hopeful of a glimpse of the partial eclipse as it moved across European skies before heading northwards via North Africa and the Middle East.

A police officer handed out special eclipse viewer glasses.

Eight-year-old Rufus Aagaard had brought along a home-made viewer, fashioned out of a cardboard tube.

"It's made of cardboard, paper, Sellotape and tin foil, and a pinprick on the end," he told AFP.

More than 8,000 visitors gathered in the Faroes, where the total eclipse began at 9:41 am (0941 GMT), and some 1,500 to 2,000 were expected in Svalbard, where it started at 11:11 am (1011 GMT).

Juliana Opielka from Germany scours Svalbard for polar bears. Photo: Jon Olav Nesvold / NTB Scanpix

A group of 50 Danes bought tickets aboard a Boeing 737 chartered by a science magazine to watch the event from the skies above the Faroe Islands.

While they will be shielded from the vagaries of Faroese weather, there are some things they won't get to experience when watching the eclipse from the sky.

"If you're on the ground you can hear the birds behaving differently, and the temperature falls," John Valentin Mikkelsen, a 63-year-old teacher from the Danish city of Aarhus told AFP.Svalbard anticipation. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix

The threat of polar bears 

In Svalbard, which is just emerging from four months of winter darkness, hotels have been fully-booked for years ahead of the event, the 10th solar eclipse of the 21st century.

In the Arctic archipelago, where everything is extreme, visitors must contend with temperatures as low as -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) at this time of year.

And then there's the threat of roaming polar bears.

A Czech tourist who was lightly injured in a polar bear attack on Thursday served as a reminder of the danger posed by the animals, which have killed five people since 1971 in Svalbard.

Story continues below…

Total eclipses occur when the moon moves between Earth and the Sun, and the three bodies align precisely.

The moon as seen from Earth is just broad enough to cover the solar face, creating a breath-taking silver halo in an indigo sky pocked by daytime stars.

Elsewhere, the eclipse was partial, to varying degrees: the sun was 97 percent hidden in Reykjavik, 93 percent in Edinburgh, 84 percent in London and 78 percent in Paris.

The next total solar eclipse visible from Europe is not due until August 12th 2026.

Another celestial phenomenon is also expected on Friday.

Earth's satellite will appear as a "supermoon," which happens at its closest point to our planet, its perigee.

This, and the moon's alignment with the sun, will add to the gravitational pull on the seas -- creating what is literally a high point in the 18-year
lunar cycle.

The celestial ballet will on Saturday result in major tides most perceptible in Canada's Bay of Fundy, on the French Atlantic coast, in the English Channel and North Sea -- but even the Mediterranean will feel the difference.

For more news from Norway, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Mass brawl breaks out at Norway asylum centre
The Forus asylum centre in Stavanger. Photo: Carina Johansen / NTB scanpix

A rejected asylum seeker was arrested early on Tuesday after a fight involving up to 20 people.

Brit held for throwing pie at Norway's equality minister
The woman accepted the court's judgement but denied having planned the pie attack. Photo: Erik Fosheim Brandsborg / NTB scanpix

A British woman will be held on remand for for weeks for attacking Norwegian Equality Minister Solveig Horne with a cream pie.

Brexit
Iceland president: Brexit is good news for Norway
Iceland president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, shown here in 2008. Photo: Kyrre Lien/NTB Scanpix

Iceland's long-time president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson says that Brexit can give Norway and other northern countries a more important role.

Oslo court rejects Edward Snowden lawsuit
Edward Snowden speaking via satellite as he received the Bjornson prize in September. Photo: Svein Ove Ekornesvåg / NTB scanpix

The Oslo District Court on Monday rejected American whistleblower Edward Snowden’s lawsuit to prevent his potential extradition.

Video
VIDEO: Norwegians set world record for largest bonfire
The bonfire was measured at 47.4 metres. Photo: Runar Andersen / NTB scanpix

See stunning video of the world's tallest bonfire going up in flames as Norway celebrated midsummer.

Brexit - Opinion
Norwegian in London: 'Brexit is dreadful for the UK's unity'
Commuters cross the London Bridge on Friday. Photo: DANIEL SORABJI/Scanpix

Welsh-Norwegian reporter Sunniva Davies-Rommetveit writes that Brexit leaves her fearing a new isolationist UK.

Norway enjoys one of world's 'best reputations'
Despite a fall from second, Norway still enjoys one of the world's best reputations. Photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøtt / NTB scanpix

Norway tumbled three spots in a new report ranking the most reputable countries in the world.

Brexit
Norway PM: EU should heed Brexit ‘warning’
People walk past a "Vote Leave" sign as they arrive to vote in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Thursday. Photo: Paul Faith/Scanpix

Erna Solberg said on Friday morning that she is worried about the knock-off political consequences of Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

Rain threatens Norway's Sankthans celebrations
According to the forecast, this year's Sankthans celebrations won't be quite as nice as last year. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

Norwegians may have a hard time lighting their Sankthans bonfires, as the weekend calls for damp conditions throughout the country, particularly in the south.

Surprise! Norway not priciest place for food in Europe
Filling your cart in a Norwegian supermarket costs 159 percent of the EU average. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

... but it is for booze and tobacco.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Norway's ‘biggest sovereignty concession’ to EU in years
National
Norway makes ‘biggest sovereignty concession’ to EU in years
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Norway boosts defence against Russia threat
International
Norway boosts defence against Russia threat
FACT-CHECK: No, Norway isn’t banning diesel and petrol cars
National
FACT-CHECK: No, Norway isn’t banning diesel and petrol cars – yet
Norway aims to be climate-neutral by 2030
National
Norway aims to be climate-neutral by 2030
Migrant numbers plunge as Norway now 'less attractive'
National
Migrant numbers plunge as Norway now 'less attractive'
Society
Record number of kids mark Norway's National Day
Take a ride on Norway's most spectacular road
Travel
Take a ride on Norway's most spectacular road
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
National
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
National
Norway violated mass murderer's human rights: court
Modern-day Norwegian Viking conquers Instagram
Lifestyle
Modern-day Norwegian Viking conquers Instagram
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Global protests condemn 'legal kidnapping' in Norway
National
Global protests condemn 'legal kidnapping' in Norway
Norway to allow gay church weddings
Society
Church of Norway to allow same-sex weddings
'No means no': Norway sends migrants on anti-rape courses
National
'No means no': Norway sends migrants on anti-rape courses
For first time, majority in Norway don’t believe in God
Society
For first time, majority in Norway don’t believe in God
Norway preps 'breakthrough' on gender change
Health
Norway preps 'breakthrough' on gender change
Breivik says he'll fight 'to the death' for Nazism
National
Breivik says he'll fight 'to the death' for Nazism
2,021
jobs available