The BBC will be joining Stornoway Astronomical Society for a live broadcast of the solar eclipse from Callanish on March 20th, as part of the BBC Stargazing Live programme.
Said Donny Mackay, president of Stornoway Astronomical Society: “We expect the moon to make first contact with the Sun around 08.30 am and gradually cover the Sun’s disk over the course of the following hour with the maximum coverage occurring shortly after 09.30 am.
"The Isle of Lewis is the best location in the UK for viewing the eclipse with a total coverage of approximately 98%, which is marginally better than in Shetland and the Orkney Isles. The full 100% cover can only be seen over the Faroe Islands or over the Islands of the Svalbard Archipelago such as Spitsbergen. We have been advised that all available accommodation at these locations has now been filled, and therefore the Isle of Lewis is now regarded as the prime location for viewing the eclipse.”
And given the inundation of enquiries regarding the eclipse that SAC has received - 240 emails over the weekend, and almost 2,000 hits on their website in the last week - it is suspected that a large number of visitors will visit the island for this event.
BBC breakfast TV will be on the air from 6.00am on the day of the eclipse, and they will transfer to their live outside broadcast team at Callanish at regular intervals. The manager of the visitor centre and cafe has very kindly agreed to open the centre 4 hours earlier than normal, at 06.00am.
Several members of Stornoway Astronomical Society will be involved setting up telescopes fitted with special solar filters and distributing over 100 pairs of special eclipse viewing glasses which the society have managed to obtain specially for visitors on the day. Astronomers always advise members of the general public never to view the sun direct with a telescope, binoculars, or with the naked eye even at times of an eclipse as this could result in severe eye damage.