Friday 20th March: the Northern Hemisphere’s answer to Thailand’s full moon party

Slugging a bottle of gin? Losing half of your body weight in sweat at some overrated club in east London? Ordering 50 quid’s worth of vindaloo curry and falling into a food coma on the sofa? Save it for next weekend, the stuff of this divine Friday holds a special kind of magic, with this year’s vernal equinox coinciding with a supermoon and a solar eclipse.

So if you missed the aurora borealis earlier in the week, there are still great opportunities for sky watchers.

Here’s the line-up:

(It’s lunarcy…)

1. Spring equinox

It’s the vernal equinox we’ve all been waiting for to mark the beginning of spring and brighten our days, and nights considerably. Northern Hemisphere put your hands up.

2. Supermoon & Solar Eclipse

Whether it’s some kind of potent symbol or backdrop of doom, or a marker for new beginnings, the moon is at its closest point to earth in its orbit this Friday, and at its new phase will become a supermoon. The moon won’t appear any bigger to us (by us we mean anyone in the areas listed below) but will create larger-than-usual tides, and will be accompanied by a total or partial solar eclipse – depending on where you are – as the moon swings right in front of the equinox sun.

Total eclipse times and locations:

If you’re lucky enough to be in the Faroe Islands or Svalbard, make yourself readily available to dance between 8.30 and 11.30 in the morning, with total blackout at 9.41 in Tórshavn (Faroe Island in the North Sea) and at 11.11 in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Sweden.

Partial eclipse times and locations:

A beautiful phenomenon, get ready to see the dancing shadows – a poem of partly eaten biscuits (crescent moon shapes) reflected on surfaces during the partial solar eclipse, when trees and bushes act as filters for luminous projections of the sun as it is partially cloaked in darkness.
•    Reykjavik, Iceland – 8.38 am to 9.39 am
•    London, England – 8.25am to 10.41 am
•    Algiers, Algeria – 9.06am to 11.20 am
•    Moscow, Russia – 12,13pm to 2.27 pm

3. Steve McFadden’s birthday

Bizarre  culture steve
Show your appreciation for the birth of solar-faced Steve McFadden on Friday, when he celebrates his 56th birthday. The soap actor, who plays hard man Phil Mitchell in the long-running BBC1 series EastEnders in the UK, is a cosmic addition to our line-up of Friday treats. Since this is the first UK-wide solar eclipse in 54 years, it almost seems like an astronomical coincidence – but not quite.

If you’re not inspired yet, we can comfortably turn to astronomy babe Professor Brian Cox, who waxes lyrical about why Friday 20th March is so exciting: click here.

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