The total solar eclipse happens when the Moon covers the entire surface of the Sun’s disk. It’s a rare phenomenon and today, the Feroe Islands and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, located 800 miles from the North Pole are the only places where it will be visible.
In other parts of the world only a partial eclipse will be seen. The event has attracted more than 2,000 visitors to Svalbard, doubling the archipelago’s population. The astronomy buffs are eager to watch the phenomenon that has amazed mankind since the beginning of time.
It is the only solar eclipse of the year. It will begin in Svalbard at 11:11 am (1011 GMT). Here, people will enjoy 2 minutes and 30 seconds of darkness due to the solar eclipse.
Hotels in the area are fully booked and they have been since more than a year ago, especially for this event. For the lucky few who found an available room, the rates are astronomical: more than $600 a night for a double room.
Temperatures can fall to -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) at this time of year in in Svalbard, a region located at 78 degrees North, where polar bears attacks are common. Five people have lost their lives in the past four decades, after polar bear attacks.
Tourists and scientists from Japan, Australia and the United States are at the scene, eager to observe one of the greatest astronomical events of the year.
Some 8,000 eclipse tourists travelled to the Faroe Islands, a Danish autonomous territory where 50,000 people live.
The eclipse is a good opportunity for scientists to try and figure out a longstanding mystery: Why is the sun’s corona, the ring of plasma standing a few thousand miles away from the actual star, much hotter than the sun’s surface. Temperatures of over 2 million degrees Celsius are registered in the corona, while the Sun is ”colder”, at 6,000 degrees.
“The difference between the temperature of the sun and that of the sun’s corona is one of the great mysteries of astronomy,” said Huw Morgan of Aberystwyth University in Wales, adding: “A total eclipse gives us a unique opportunity to measure the corona of the sun in so much detail and collect data that will enable us to better understand this difference”.
In order to observe the solar eclipse, the weather has to be good. The forecast is for partially cloudy weather on Friday in the Faroe Islands and Svalbard.
Image Source: Cosmopoliti