VIDEO: Eclipse brings Northern Ireland into the twilight zone

Cloud cover across parts of Northern Ireland spoiled the UK’s first near-total eclipse of the sun for some on Friday, but others got a rare glimpse into the twilight zone.

The moon crossing in front of the sun for the first time in 16 years proved an unforgettable experience for those fortunate enough to have clear skies around 9.30am.

Solar eclipse

Solar eclipse

Hundreds of office workers in Belfast city centre gathered at the front of the city hall - many wearing special viewing glasses - and were rewarded with a 15-minute break in the clouds.

As the eclipse developed, the moon gradually took a larger and larger “bite” out of the sun, covering up to 97% of its face at the height of the eclipse.

Around the UK the proportion of the sun covered by the moon increased towards the north, ranging from 84% in London to 89% in Manchester, 93% in Edinburgh, and 97% in Lerwick in the Shetland Isles.

A total eclipse can be an eerie and disturbing experience as day turns to night, birds stop singing, and the sun’s shimmering corona atmosphere is revealed.

Friday was also the spring equinox - when the number of hours darkness was matched by the number of hours daylight - meaning we will have daylight hours between now and September 23.