FROM the summit of Arthur’s Seat to the west bank of the Nile, the world paused and looked to the skies yesterday morning as a solar eclipse plunged swathes of the Earth into near darkness.
Millions of skywatchers the world over looked on as the sun and moon performed their rare, wondrous dance.
Unfortunately, opaque screeds of cloud blanketed the skies over much of Scotland’s Central Belt, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon among those who tried to glimpse one of nature’s greatest phenomenons through a thick grey canopy in what turned out to be typically Glaswegian weather.
But a few lucky breaks elsewhere meant those who gathered in the likes of Edinburgh and Skye were suitably rewarded with good views. Some stargazers sported protective glasses while others donned homemade contraptions fashioned out of cardboard boxes.
The nation’s best vantage point was in Shetland, which enjoyed a near total eclipse as around 97 per cent of the sun’s disc became obscured by the moon at 9:43am, turning it into a thin, silvery crescent.
The most striking views, however, were to be found even further north, where the eclipse produced a 100-mile-wide “totality” shadow path spanning the Faroe Islands and the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.
Only observers along this path were able to see a total eclipse, when the sun was completely covered and day fleetingly turned into night.
Some of those intent on viewing the event in all its glory took to the skies in a specially chartered flight. Gail Love from Kirkcaldy was among 57 passengers on a Jet2.com flight which set off from Glasgow Airport at 7:30am yesterday. Flying north of the Faroes, it reached a height of 38,000 feet, allowing those on board a clear, cloud-free vista.
Ms Love described the journey as “absolutely out of this world” and “really overwhelming”. She added: “As soon as I heard about it, I knew I wanted to be on it. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.”
The eclipse was expected to have a significant impact on the national grid, with a predicted loss of 850 megawatts of solar power from the electricity supply network.
Another “deep” partial eclipse visible in the UK will not occur until 12 August 2026, while the next total eclipse is even further off – September 2090.