This page provides some rough maps and descriptions of the track of the eclipse through the British Isles, and some guidance about where to be for a good sighting of the eclipse (weather permitting).

What will we see: don't forget to visit my Solar Eclipse page for a description of what we should see during the eclipse!

All times on this page are quoted in British Summer Time (BST), which will be in force in Britain on the day, with the equivalent Universal Times (UT) in brackets.

The Partial Eclipse

Map from the NASA SDAC Eclipse InformationGSFC Eclipse Web Site
The primary source of all the information on eclipses presented here at Hermit Eclipse. (NASA Goddard Space flight Center)

The whole of the British Isles will see a partial eclipse of the Sun, ranging from about 80% coverage of the Sun in the far north of Scotland, to 90% around Leeds, 96% in London, 99.5% in Bournemouth -- and, of course, 100% in Cornwall and Devon. The map on the right shows the approximate coverage of the partial eclipse. (The area in the South-West which will see a total eclipse is highlighted.)

The partial phase of the eclipse lasts much longer than the total phase. Britain will see the Moon begin to move over the Sun -- the moment known as first contact -- within a few minutes of 9:55 BST (8:55 UT), beginning at the top-right of the Sun's disc. The Sun will be gradually covered by the Moon, until the point of the maximum partial eclipse, which will be at about 11:10 BST (10:10 UT) in Cornwall and Ireland, and up to 10 minutes later in other parts of the Isles.

The remainder of the eclipse is the reverse of the beginning, with the Moon gradually uncovering the Sun, until at fourth contact it leaves the Sun entirely. This will happen at around 12:35 BST (11:35 UT).

What You'll See

For various locations around the UK, this table shows the approximate start, maximum, and end times of the partial eclipse, in British Summer Time (BST). The table also shows the magnitude of the partial eclipse (ie. the percentage of the sun's diameter that will be covered at maximum):

Location Start Max End Mag. Location Start Max End Mag.
Aberdeen 10:0811:20 12:3481.8% Ayr 10:0311:16 12:3286.6%
Dundee 10:0611:18 12:3383.8% Edinburgh 10:0511:18 12:3385.2%
Falkirk 10:0511:17 12:3285.1% Glasgow 10:0411:16 12:3285.5%
Birmingham 10:0211:17 12:3794.3% Exeter 09:5911:14 12:3499.5%
London 10:0311:19 12:3996.8% Manchester 10:0311:17 12:3691.6%
Newcastle 10:0611:19 12:3687.5% Poole 10:0011:16 12:3799.3%
Portsmouth 10:0111:18 12:3898.9% Preston 10:0311:17 12:3591.0%
Southampton 10:0111:17 12:3898.6% York 10:0511:19 12:3790.2%
Cork 9:5611:09 12:2796.6% Dublin 9:5911:12 12:3092.5%
Cardiff 10:0011:15 12:3597.3% Newport 10:0011:15 12:3597.0%
Port Talbot 09:5911:14 12:3497.1% Swansea 09:5911:14 12:3497.0%








The Total Eclipse

Observers within the path of totality will see a partial eclipse begin and build up much like the rest of the UK; until the crucial moment when the Moon fully covers the Sun -- known as second contact, at about 11:10 BST (10:10 UT). This is the moment when the total eclipse begins.

After (at most, depending on exactly where you are) 2 minutes or so of total eclipse, the Sun reappears from behind the Moon; this is third contact, and signals the return to a partial eclipse. After that, the path of totality will see a diminishing partial eclipse, as in the rest of the UK.

The map above shows the path of the total eclipse in the region of the Channel highlighted; the centreline of the total eclipse is shown in red. As you can see, the total eclipse will pass over the Isles of Scilly, the UK mainland in south-west Cornwall and Devon, and then cross into the Channel. It also hits Alderney just before the French mainland.

The chance of clear skies is, unfortunately, not too great, so keep your fingers crossed!

Isles of Scilly

The first part of the British Isles to see a total eclipse will be the Isles of Scilly, just after 11:09 BST (10:09 UT); although being in the south part of the eclipse's track, they won't see a maximum eclipse. Hugh Town will see a total eclipse lasting 1 minute and 46 seconds, which is still pretty good. Get as far north as possible!

The Mainland

The path of the total eclipse on the UK mainland is about 100km wide, but a much longer eclipse is seen at the centre of that path than the edges; so it's better to be nearer the middle than the sides of the path. Then again, the duration only falls away slowly from the centre out, and much more quickly close to the edges; so it isn't necessary to be right on the the middle. Anywhere within about 8 miles of the centerline should see a 2-minute total eclipse (or within a few seconds of that).

To give you an idea of how this all works in practice, I've shown the "2-minute zone" (the area where a 2-minute total eclipse will be seen) on the maps below, and given the duration of the total eclipse as seen from various places.

Total eclipse on the mainland: this map shows the area of the total eclipse, with the approximate area which will see a 2-minute plus eclipse highlighted, along with the centre line passing from the tip of Cornwall to Falmouth.


The centre of the track of total eclipse hits the British mainland at about Trewellard Zawn/The Avarack, to the north of Land's End. The total eclipse here will last a fraction over 2 minutes and 1 second, with the maximum eclipse at 11:11:30 BST (10:11:30 UT); it will start a minute before that, and end a minute after.

The coast path there might be a good viewing point (by the same token, it might be thronged!); on a clear day, you'd see the shadow coming in over the sea, like an approaching storm; but rather quickly (over 2,000 miles an hour)!

The centre of the eclipse then moves east, past Lower Boscaswell, Crowlas, Trenwheal, and then to the southern edge of Falmouth, at Swanpool Beach. The centreline then passes over Zone Point and off into the channel; at Zone point, the total eclipse will last a fraction over 2 minutes and 2 seconds, with the maximum at 11:12:26 BST (10:12:26 UT).

Detail of the path of the centre of the total eclipse through Cornwall, with the times of maximum eclipse on the centreline shown in Universal Time. Add 1 hour for BST (ie. it will be around 11:12 BST). The total eclipse will start a minute before maximum, and end a minute after. The lighter area shows approximately which places will see a 2 minute or longer total eclipse.

With the area of totality being 100km wide, anyone south of the Port Isaac - Tavistock - Teignmouth limit will see a total eclipse, but anyone on that limit will only see a very short one; Port Isaac, for example, gets 39 seconds, and Teignmouth only 14. The farther south, the longer the eclipse, until you reach the centre of track.

Padstow sees 1 minute 6 seconds of totality at 11:12 BST (10:12 UT); Wadebridge, 1 minute 19; Bodmin, 1 minute 23; Liskeard, 1 minute 25. Farther south, Newquay and Roche are both in the dark for 1 minute 42 seconds; Lostwithiel for 1 minute 41; Saint Austell for 1 minute 53.

In order to see a 2-minute eclipse, be somewhere south of Redruth / Truro / Mevagissey and north of Porthcurno / Coverack. Within that area, position makes very little difference. At the easternmost point of the centreline, Falmouth should see the longest total eclipse in the UK.

I've put together a detailed description of the eclipse track, just for fun.


Devon offers some excellent prospects for the eclipse-hunter; the trick is to get south. Anywhere south of Tavistock - Teignmouth will see a total eclipse, but, once again, for a decent duration, you need to be as far south of the limit as possible.

Tavistock gets a 44-second eclipse; Plymouth will see the eclipse shortly before 11:13 BST (10:13 UT) for 1 minute 42 seconds. Farther east, though, the land gets closer to the centre line; Kingsbridge gets 1 minute 56 seconds, Salcome 2 minutes and 1 second, and Prawle Point, the best viewing place in Devon, should get 2 minutes and 4 seconds, all just after 11:13 BST (10:13 UT).

Torquay will be in the dark for 1 minute 12 seconds, shortly after 11:14 BST (10:14 UT); Totnes gets a 1 minute 31 second eclipse. Dartmouth will be among the last places on the UK mainland to see a total eclipse, for 1 minute 44 seconds, finishing at 11:15 and 20 seconds BST (10:15:20 UT).

Given the terrible crowding and other problems expected in Cornwall, Devon could be a good alternative, being less geographically isolated (so more accessible); on the other hand, there's a far smaller area of land which will see a long total eclipse.


At 11:16 BST (10:16 UT), my old home county of Dorset is very close to the eclipse: but bad luck, it just misses! Portland Bill is particularly unlucky: Pulpit Rock, on the southern tip, is off the track by just a couple of miles. Bournemouth and Weymouth will both see the sun obscured by over 99%; Weymouth's maximum eclipse is at 11:16 and 10 seconds BST (10:16:10 UT), and Bournemouth's is at 11:17 and 1 second BST (10:17:01 UT). Following this, the eclipse moves off into the channel, and that's it for the UK.

The Channel Islands

Alderney, in the Channel Islands, will be the last part of the British Isles to experience a total eclipse; it is in the southern part of the path of totality, and should see its greatest eclipse just after 11:16 BST (10:16 UT); St. Anne will be in totality for 1 minute and 47 seconds. The farther north the better, here.

Guernsey, Sark, and Jersey are just south of the path of totality, and will just be missed by the shadow! St. Peter Port will see a 99.8% eclipse, which still requires precautions for safe viewing.

Where to Stand

So where to go? Well, my best advice is to try and find clear skies -- this could be difficult! Analysis of past weather patterns doesn't really say much except that you can't predict what'll happen until nearer the time.

The other issue, of course, is simply dealing with the traffic and other logistical problems likely to hit the south on the day; the Cornish News page carries the latest info on Cornwall, likely to be hardest hit. The other place to consider is Devon, of course, particularly around Prawle Point.

One little point -- a town may be a bad place to be. It might look OK in the daytime, but if the darkness of the total eclipse turns on loads of photocell-controlled streetlights, the viewing conditions could be wrecked! (Thanks to John Fraser for pointing this one out!)

Wherever you decide to go, however, please respect land access rights, and leave the place as you found it.

To Travel Or Not?

One common question is: is it worth travelling to see the total eclipse, or will the partial eclipse be worth it? Well, that's up to you, I'm afraid! With the Sun about 90% - 99% covered over most of England, it'll get pretty dark, but by no means the same as a night sky. The Sun at all times will remain too bright for direct viewing without eye damage; and you won't see the solar corona and other solar phenomena. The Sun will be reduced to a crescent, but that crescent will be just as intensely bright as the full Sun usually is.

This means that you almost certainly won't see any stars in the sky at totality; it is remotely possible that Venus will be visible, faintly, but I think that's pushing it, given the amount of light there will be in the sky. Of course, it could just be cloudy (in either Cornwall or anywhere else)!

So, in all, we can look forward to 2 hours and more of eclipse; but it's the all-too-brief total phase which is by far the most interesting.