On 20 March 2015, the last total solar eclipse for over a decade will be visible from a few remote parts of Earth. This time, although parts of Africa, Asia and northern Europe will have a partial glimpse, it’s the turn of the northern Atlantic to bask in over two minutes of daytime darkness.
The path of totality is from just below the Greenland peninsula, heading north into the Arctic Circle, a course that takes it across the Russian island of Svalbard and also the Faroe Islands, for a full two minutes and nine seconds of total solar eclipse.
For the majority of eclipse hunters who don’t live in this remote area of the world, the inconvenient alignment of the Sun and the Moon might appear to make chasing this event seem futile. Fortunately, there is an eclipse cruise departing from Newcastle in the UK that will take you to the Faroe Islands in time to witness the full Moon crossing the Sun as it happens; check out eclipseofthecentury.com or call (+44) 20 7766 5237 for more information.
A total eclipse of the Sun can happen on Earth because, although the Moon is about 400 times smaller than the Sun, it’s also around 400 times closer to the Earth, so its disc can completely fill the disc of the Sun and cause a brief total blackout. However, the Moon is currently moving away from the Earth at a rate of 3.8 centimetres (1.5 inches) a year, which means that some 560 million years from now, the Earth will experience its final total solar eclipse as the angular size of the Moon becomes too small to fully cover the solar disc.