The Outer Hebrides is hoping to capitalise on a boost in visitor numbers thanks to a rare solar eclipse tomorrow (Friday).
Astro tourists are expected to visit the Outer Hebrides, as well as Orkney, Shetland and the north of the country to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon, due to be visible on the morning of Friday 20 March. Remoter parts of these regions offer perfect ‘dark skies’ and very little light pollution - improving the chances of seeing this spectacle at its best.
The Isle of Lewis will be the one of the darkest places in the UK to see the eclipse (98%), as well as Shetland (97%) and a live BBC Stargazing Live television broadcast - with Stornoway Astronomical Society - will come direct from the Callanish Standing Stones on Lewis on Friday morning.
The Callanish Visitor Centre and Cafe will be open from 6am and Stornoway Astronomical Society has obtained over 100 pairs of eclipse viewing glasses, which will be available free of charge to visitors attending the event at Callanish.
Three ships operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages will be stopping off in Scotland on special solar eclipse voyages, with more than 2,500 passengers heading north to witness the cosmic event.
The Azores (500 passengers) will call at Kirkwall, Lerwick and Stornoway; the Magellan (1200 passengers) will spend a day at both Invergordon, in the Highlands, and Lerwick, Shetland; and the Marco Polo (750 passengers) will stop off at Kirkwall on Orkney and Invergordon.
Each voyage will hand out special pairs of protective glasses to its passengers, while two drone pilots will join the Marco Polo on Orkney to capture some unforgettable images.
Alan MacKenzie, Island Manager at VisitScotland, said:
“The Solar Eclipse is a hugely exciting and rare phenomenon, and Lewis, in particular, is in the right place at the right time. We will have 98% darkness on Lewis during the eclipse so this will be the best place in the whole of the UK in to witness the phenomenon.
“We’re absolutely delighted that the Stornoway Astronomical Society will be hosting a special observing session at the Callanish Stones on Friday. This will broadcast live on BBC Breakfast, and there will be several telescopes and 100 pairs of special eclipse viewing glasses which visitors can use on the day. This is an extremely rare solar event and I would encourage everyone to make their way to Stornoway for an event that will be out of this world!”
For more information on the solar eclipse, visit: www.visitscotland.com/blog/events/solar-eclipse