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© Bill Dale
The last partial solar eclipse visible from the Isle of Man was in 1999
Tonight's meteor shower and tomorrow morning's partial solar eclipse are under threat from poor visibility, but Isle of Man stargazers are keeping their fingers crossed for a a break in the clouds.

Weather forecasters at the Ronaldsway Met office say we should expect a cold night (3C) and the possibility of some heavy rain showers with snow on hills but that visibility at sea level will be "good occasionally moderate". The cloud cover is more difficult to predict, but it appears that there will be broken cloud overnight and in the morning.

Tonight sees a significant meteor shower and tomorrow sees a partial solar eclipse which happens at dawn. The Quadrantids meteor shower hits its peak between 11pm and midnight tonight and the partial solar eclipse can be visible low on the horizon at dawn tomorrow. Sunrise is 8.38am.

The partial eclipse is already visible in Britain. It is best seen from London at the moment, with the upper left of the sun's disc hidden from the moon at sunrise, while in Manchester, Edinburgh (and the Isle of Man) it can also be seen, but not covering so much of the sun. The eclipse ends each day when the moon passes through around 9.30am.

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© Unknown
The Quadrantids meteor shower will stream from the constellation The Plough
The partial eclipse will be at its peak at dawn tomorrow and can be seen across Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. From the Isle of Man around one third of the sun will be covered by the moon. The event also coincides with a new moon, promising the possibility of a spectacular sight for stargazers. Points along the east coast of the Isle of Man will be the best places to view the eclipse and local astronomy enthusiasts will be out in force.

Howard Parkin, chairman of the Isle of Man Astronomical Society, said, "I'm hoping that we will get a good view of the 'twin horns' of the sun during the eclipse."

Visibility is best away from street lights and in the countryside as viewing from towns will be impaired by street lighting. There is no need for telescopes or binoculars to see the meteor shower but it is not advised to use telescopes or binoculars to see the partial eclipse of the sun because of the risk to eye damage. For the best eye protection, it is also advised not to look directly at the sun with the naked eye, but to use projection instead.

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The east coast of the Isle of Man will be the best place to view the partial eclipse
Meteors (shooting stars) will stream from their radiant point which is below and to the left of the handle of The Plough through the north east and east. It is expected to produce a high rate of up to 60 meteors per hour.

The two events will be featured in a special series of programmes on BBC television starting this evening, hosted by Professor Brian Cox and Dara O'Briain entitled Stargazing Live. The first goes out this evening at 8pm on BBC2.

Share your photos: We would like to publish your photographs of the skies around the Isle of Man which can be spectacular at this time of the year, as well as any images of tomorrow morning's partial solar eclipse. Send to [email protected]

- Howard Parkin, chairman of the Isle of Man Astronomical Society, will give a free lecture at the Manx Museum on January 27th, entitled "The Manx Night Sky" giving an insight into the history of astronomical events visible from the Isle of Man and current and future events. The lecture will also include a review of the Isle of Man's role in the space industry.

- The Isle of Man Astronomical Society meets on the first Thursday of every month at 8pm at its observatory off the Lhoobs Road in Foxdale. Members of the public are warmly invited to attend with no obligation to join. If anyone wishes to become a member after attending a few meetings the annual subscription is £27.50.