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Total eclipse over US today; only partial for Donegal

Partial eclipse visible over Ireland this evening, clouds permitting

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Total eclipse over US today; only partial for Donegal

A total solar eclipse will pass across a large stretch of the United States later today.

A total solar eclipse will cross a large section of the United States later today, with best views in 14 states.

Ireland will experience only a partial eclipse, with best viewing in the southern part of the country.

Eclipses occur when the moon partially or totally blocks out the sun for two to three minutes, but the path of totality - the area covered by a total eclipse - is narrow. A partial eclipse can be seen over a much wider area.

The eclipse occurs when the moon’s path crosses directly in front of the Sun, resulting in a shadow being briefly cast on the Earth. Astronomy Ireland explained that the phenomenon occurs because the Sun's diameter is 400 times that of the moon, and distance of the sun from the Earth is also 400 times that of the moon, making them appear the same size on Earth.

The total eclipse will be seen in the United States across a path that runs coast to coast, from Oregon to South Carolina.

The partial eclipse will be visible in Ireland at sunset, clouds permitting, starting just before 7.40pm and reaching its peak just after 8pm. It will all be over by 8.30pm, Astronomy Ireland said. Only around 10 per cent of the Sun will be blocked out here in Ireland.

The public is advised never to look directly at the sun during a solar eclipse.

Astronomy Ireland will hold eclipse events at 7.30pm this evening, with the equipment necessary to safely watch, at their headquarters in Rosemount Business Park, Dublin 15, and in Waterford.

The most recent partial eclipse seen in Ireland was in March of 2015, but the last time a total eclipse was seen from Ireland was in 1727. Ireland experienced other partial eclipses in 1999, 2008, 2006, and 2005.