• France's news in English

The best places to see the eclipse in France

The Local · 20 Mar 2015, 08:10

Published: 20 Mar 2015 08:10 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
For a live look at what's going on, including videos and reader pics, click here
What’s happening?
On the morning of Friday, March 20th, Europe will be plunged into almost darkness during the most complete solar eclipse in ten years, when the moon passes in front of the sun. France last witnessed a solar eclipse in 2005. In 1999 Europe witnessed the last total eclipse of the previous millennium. 
When is it happening?
The eclipse can be seen in Paris between 9.23am and 11.41am on Friday March 20th. The sun will be the most covered at 10.30am, as seen in the graph below. 

(Graphics from Timeanddate.com)
Elsewhere, the timing will vary ever-so slightly, as shown in the graph below. (Maximum is the time when the eclipse is at its fullest, obs shows the percentage of the sun that will be covered, h is the height of the sun, and début and fin are the start and end times.)
Will it even be that impressive?
It is not a total eclipse, so the effect will be much more gradual than an end-of-the-world plunge into darkness. But still, those in northern France will be able to enjoy an eclipse of over 80 percent, meaning less than a fifth of the sun will be visible.
If the weather is good, the city of Brest on the north-west coast has been tipped as a prime contender for best spot to see the spectacle unfold. Anywhere along the north coast has also been suggested as good back up options. 
Here is how much of the sun will be covered as viewed from some of the biggest cities around France.
  • Paris: 77.8 percent
  • Marseille: 64.3 percent
  • Bordeaux: 72.9 percent
  • Lille: 83.4 percent
  • Lyon: 69.8 percent


How should I watch it?

You should watch the eclipse through special eclipse glasses, never look directly into the sun. Alternatively, click here for a handy guide on how to make a pinhole viewer, another way to safely watch the eclipse.
Is it too late to buy some in France?
You better get shopping now, they're selling out. In the Astroshop store, a staff member told the 20 Minutes newspaper that no one had anticipated such a demand for the glasses.
"We could never have expected such a hype, especially considering it's just a partial eclipse," he said, noting that the next total eclipse won't be until 2081. 
Is there any danger of losing electricity?
The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity has noted that there is a "risk" of an incident considering that there is 100 times more power coming from solar powers today than during the last eclipse in 1999. 
If the morning of March 20th turns out to be very sunny -- before the eclipse hides the sun -- the sudden drop-off in production could reach 34,000 Megawatts, the equivalent of 80 medium-sized conventional power plants, noted the AFP news agency.
Story continues below…

(Photo: Jalal Hameed Bhatti/Flickr)
If there is a problem, however, it will most likely be in Germany where there is a solar power capacity of 40,000 MW and where 18 percent of electricity consumption last year came from solar power.
France with its 5,700 MW also has a significant solar power industry, but operators are already bolstering their teams in the anticipation of any problems. They will boost reserves from the usual 1,000 MW to 1,700 MW to keep on the safe side. 
Still confused?
For those of you who want a more graphic example of Friday's eclipse, look no further...
Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President Fran├žois Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available