As the biggest solar eclipse since 1999 will plunge much of the country into darkness tomorrow, people are being urged to protect their eyes.
The UK hasn’t seen a total solar eclipse - where the Moon completely covers the Sun - since 1999, and won’t get another one until 2090.
Taking pictures of Friday’s solar eclipse on a smartphone could seriously damage eyes and even cause blindness, eye experts have warned.
The College of Optometrists says the danger comes should people look directly at the Sun as they position themselves for selfies or other snaps.
Glancing at the Sun - even briefly while setting up a photo - can lead to burns at the back of eye.
If you are taking a picture, never look directly at the Sun, even the small amount of Sun peeking out during an eclipse is enough to cause serious and permanent damage, never look at the Sun through binoculars or a telescope or through sunglasses - they will not protect your eyes.
Robin Scagell, vice-president of the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), who will be travelling on the P&O cruise ship Oriana to witness the eclipse, said the event will be “memorable” but warned people of the dangers of looking at it with the naked eye.
He said: “We won’t experience totality in the UK, but it will still be a memorable event.
“Unlike every other eclipse of any size, this one takes place right in the middle of the rush hour. It’s not the best time from a safety point of view.
“We’ve always had this problem with partial eclipses in particular. You need to cut down the light of the sun by an enormous amount before you can look at it safely.
A partial eclipse is more risky by far than a total eclipse because people don’t realise that even looking at a thin sliver of sun is dangerous. It’s absolutely true that there is a serious risk to people’s eyesight.Robin Scagell, vice-president SPA
“Sunglasses are useless and even things like food packing and bin liners that look as if they’re made of dense material can let through infrared light and burn your retina.
“A partial eclipse is more risky by far than a total eclipse because people don’t realise that even looking at a thin sliver of sun is dangerous.
“It’s absolutely true that there is a serious risk to people’s eyesight.
“If people can’t find a way to view the eclipse correctly then they shouldn’t look because they’re likely to damage their eyes.”
West Yorkshire Astronomical Society will be opening up the Rosse Observatory in Carleton, Pontefract for the event.
The facility, on Carleton Road, will open from 8am.
The Met Office has said they expect a lot of cloud around for Friday morning. There may be some clearer spells across central England, Wales and the south west England, with a chance of some breaks in the cloud either side of this.
It looks like Southern England, Northern England, Northern Ireland and Scotland will have cloud and this will be thicker the further north you go.
The next big partial eclipse in the UK will be in August 2026.
Will you be watching? Let us know what you think and don’t forget to share any photos - taken safely!