Press release

Friday 20 March, between 9:26 and 11:47 local time, a large, partial solar eclipse will be visible from Belgium.

Solar and radio telescopes in Uccle and Humain will closely monitor this spectacle. We also collaborate with European scientists to observe the eclipse with one of the largest radio telescope networks in the world, called LOFAR. Satellites will also trace changes in the ionosphere, a layer of our Earth's atmosphere. Even in the event of bad weather and cloud cover, the decrease in light levels when the Moon is blocking most of the solar disk will be noticeable. The ionospheric and radio observations are not affected by cloud cover.

PROBA2, an ESA satellite built in Belgium and operated from the PROBA2 Science Centre in Uccle, will see the Sun in eclipse in the extreme ultraviolet from its orbit around the Earth. Far above the clouds, the satellite will witness two almost full solar eclipses. Part of the data and images from the first PROBA2 eclipse will be available late in the morning.

Why is the eclipse important for us, scientists?

A solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In the past, a total eclipse was the only way to observe the immediate environment around the Sun and to get an idea of the structure and composition of the solar atmosphere. It made scientists realize how complex and extended the solar atmosphere actually is. Nowadays, we have instruments that can create an artificial eclipse on a permanent base, but they suffer from technical limitations. Observing a solar eclipse in the normal way remains valuable for us scientists as it allows us to calibrate our solar instruments.

But above all, a solar eclipse offers us the opportunity to put our favorite study object in the picture and pass our enthusiasm. It's a science party for everyone!