Bulgaria will see a partial solar eclipse on March 20, when the shadow of new moon will blot out about half the sun’s disc in late morning. In Sofia, the eclipse will begin at 10.42am local time, reaching a maximum at 11.50am and ending at 12.59pm.
The first solar eclipse of this year will be seen over most of Europe, although only the total eclipse can be seen only on the remote northern islands of Svalbard and the Faroes. Northern Scotland and Iceland will come close to seeing the full eclipse.
In Sofia, less than half the sun’s disc will be covered by the eclipse, much less than during the eclipse in January 2011, when nearly two-thirds of the sun’s disc were covered over Bulgaria. It will also be the last solar eclipse over Bulgaria this decade, with some partial eclipses in the 2020s and a near-full eclipse due on June 1 2030.
A solar eclipse is caused when the moon passes in front of the sun. The moon for the March 20, 2015, eclipse will be a supermoon, meaning the moon is at its closest point to the earth. This also means the moon appears larger in the sky and where there is a total eclipse the sun will be covered more completely.
When the moon is further away, it sometimes fails to block the entire sun, resulting in an annular eclipse with a “ring of fire” around the moon.
(Illustration of extent of partial eclipse over Sofia, top, via timeanddate.com)