On the morning of Friday, March 20th, Europe will be plunged into dimness during the most complete solar eclipse in ten years, when the moon passes in front of the sun. Sweden last witnessed a partial solar eclipse in 2011. In 1999 Europe saw the last total eclipse of the millennium.
The last solar eclipse in Sweden 2011, in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX
When is it happening?
The eclipse can be seen in Sweden between 09:41 and 12:13, depending on where you are. For most people it will be the most visible at around 10:55 (10:50 in southern Sweden and 11:05 in the north).
— ESA Science (@esascience) March 18, 2015
But will it be impressive?
Pretty impressive, yes. In much of Europe the effect will be more gradual than an end-of-the-world plunge into darkness. But those in north-west Sweden will be able to enjoy an eclipse of more than 90 percent, meaning less than a tenth of the sun will be visible. The next time a similar solar eclipse is tipped to happen is 2039, so really, this is your best chance – especially if you're over 40.
If the weather is good, the Norwegian border in the north-west is the prime contender for best spot to see the spectacle unfold. Astronomist Robert Cumming told news wire TT earlier this week that visitors to the area will see "a really thin, smiling sun. It's as close to a total eclipse as you can get".
Southern parts of Sweden, on the other hand, will have to settle for around 80 percent of the sun in shadow, according to Swedish weather institute SMHI. If you want total darkness, you have to head to the Faroe Islands or Svalbard.
Here is how much of the sun will be covered as viewed from some of the biggest cities around Sweden, according to website stjarnhimlen.se.
Stockholm: 85 percent
Göteborg: 85 percent
Lund: 84 percent
Luleå: 90 percent
If the weather is bad, you can also watch it online here.
How should I watch it?
You should watch the eclipse through special eclipse glasses, never look directly into the sun. They're quickly selling out online, but you can make your own viewer, another way to safely watch the eclipse.
Cameras and phones should not be pointed directly at the sun, as it could damage their lenses – make sure to protect your camera equipment on Friday.
Don't look directly into the sun without special eclipse glasses. Photo: AP Photo/Wally Santana
Is there a danger of losing electricity?
Sweden's solar power industry is small, but the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity has noted that there is a "risk" of an incident in mainland Europe. 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 this week.
But if there is a problem, 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.
Solar panels in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX
Can I bring my friends?
Of course you can, the partial eclipse can be watched from anywhere in Sweden so there are no restrictions. But if you're the social type, public viewings of the spectacle are being organized by observatories and astronomy societies in Gothenburg, Mariefred and Uppsala, among others.