Faeroes invaded by total eclipse seekers

UK Awaits 'Partial 'Solar Eclipse

TORSHAVN, Faeroe Islands (AP) -- For months, even years, accommodation on the remote Faeroe Islands has been booked out by fans who don't want to miss an almost three-minute-long astronomical sensation. Now they just have to hope the clouds will blow away so they can fully experience Friday's brief total solar eclipse.

Scores of eclipse chasers and scientists have invaded the archipelago armed with telescopes, cameras and glasses for safe direct solar viewing ahead of the big event.

The weather forecast is better more than 2,000 kilometers (1,270 miles) to the northeast, in the Arctic islands of Svalbard, where spectators can hope for a clear day. The full eclipse will only be seen in a narrow path across the northern hemisphere, reaching the Faeroes at 0945 GMT on Friday.

"This is our 10th total eclipse. We love to watch them and being able to look at the corona with your eyes in the middle of the eclipse is really an exciting moment, to experience the diamond rings coming and going," said Les Anderson, a 60-year-old from San Diego, California, in Torshavn, capital of the Faeroes.

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Eclipse March 20 2015 Faeroe Islands Svalbard
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Faeroes invaded by total eclipse seekers
This combo shows different phases of the solar eclipse seen from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, an archipeligo administered by Norway, on March 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NTB SCANPIX / HAKON MOSVOLD LARSEN +++ NORWAY OUT (Photo credit should read Hakon Mosvold Larsen/AFP/Getty Images)
People watch the partial phase of a total solar eclipse as viewed from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, an archipeligo administered by Norway on March 20, 2015. Thousands gathering here as the only land the total eclipse will be seen from is on Svalbard and the Faoroe Islands off Iceland. AFP PHOTO / STAN HONDA NO ARCHIVES (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
COTSWOLDS, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 20: A rare partial solar eclipse is seen at 10.23 over Burford on March 20, 2015 in the Cotswolds, United Kingdom. The solar eclipse, which occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, started at 08:24 GMT and continues until 10:41 GMT, with the maximum obscuration of the Sun happening at 09:31 GMT. The last significant solar eclipse visible from the UK was on 11 August, 1999. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
This is what a #SolarEclipse looks like from space. Watch #Eclipse2015 live: http://t.co/jyKGS9UOKO #SloohEclipse http://t.co/LE823VsOhl
A drone flies in foreground of a partial solar eclipse in Vienna on March 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A partial solar eclipse is visible over a statue located at the rooftop of of Hofburg palace in Vienna on March 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on March 20, 2015 shows a partial solar eclipse of the sun visible over the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A man is watching the partial solar eclipse with hand-made tubes in front of Nature's Museum in Vienna on March 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Performers play instruments at sunrise on March 20, 2015, near a pre-historic stone shrine aligned to the Spring Equinox in Chas, northeast Portugal during a total eclipse, the only one this year. The Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, located 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) from the North Pole, is along with the Faroe Islands the only place the total eclipse will be visible, assuring three minutes of total darkness when the moon totally blocks the sun. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 20: A partial solar eclipse is observed at Red Square in Moscow, Russia on March 20, 2015. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
An eclipse of the sun over Northumberland, as a near-total eclipse of the sun is set to thrill or disappoint millions today, depending on luck and the fickle British weather.
EDS NOTE: SOLAR FILTER HAS BEEN USED People watch the eclipse of the sun over the Eden Project near St Austell in Cornwall.
@BBCBreaking composite image from today's solar eclipse taken in Crewe, Cheshire. http://t.co/pwcpXOmrar http://t.co/MDea1cZL3d
This combo of different phases of the solar eclipse seen from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, an archipeligo administered by Norway, on March 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NTB SCANPIX / Jon Olav Nesvold +++ NORWAY OUT (Photo credit should read JON OLAV NESVOLD/AFP/Getty Images)
USAK, TURKEY - MARCH 20: A partial solar eclipse of the sun is seen through the finial of Usak Imam Hatip High School Mosque in Usak, western of Turkey on March 20, 2015. (Photo by Soner Kilinc/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A partial solar eclipse of the sun is visible in Plymouth, south-west England on March 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GEOFF CADDICK (Photo credit should read GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images)
A partial solar eclipse is visible through a break in the cloud cover over Saint Laurent Blangy, north of France, on March 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / DENIS CHARLET (Photo credit should read DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images)
A partial solar eclipse of the sun is visible next to the 'Heart of Jesus Church' in Budapest on March 20, 2015 during the first day of the astronomical spring. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)
TONYPANDY, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 20: A rare partial solar eclipse is seen over the Miner's Family Statue in Tonypandy in South Wales on March 20, 2015 in Tonypandy, Wales, United Kingdom. The solar eclipse, which occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, started at 08:24 GMT and continues until 10:41 GMT, with the maximum obscuration of the Sun happening at 09:31 GMT. The last significant solar eclipse visible from the UK was on 11 August, 1999. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A partial solar eclipse is visible behind a statue of Sweden's King Gustav III through a break in the cloud cover over Stockholm's old town in Sweden on March 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
NEWTON STEWART, SCOTLAND - MARCH 19: Members of the Galloway Forest Astronomical Society prepare their equipment ahead of tomorrows solar eclipse on March 19, 2015 in Newton Stewart, Scotland. Tomorrow the UK will see a partial solar eclipse with up to 98 per cent coverage, which is due to pass over Britain between 07:41 UTC and 11:50 UTC. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
FUNCHAL, MADEIRA, PORTUGAL - MARCH 20: Clouds pass across the sun which is pictured during a partial solar eclipse over the Madeira Islands. The moon was scheduled to cover approximately 75% of the sun and was pictured during the first found of the Madeira Islands Open the at Santo da Serra Golf Club in Santo da Serra on March 20, 2015 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
EDS NOTE: SOLAR FILTER HAS BEEN USED People watch as an eclipse of the sun begins over the Eden Project near St Austell in Cornwall, as a near-total eclipse of the sun is set to thrill or disappoint millions today, depending on luck and the fickle British weather.
MUNICH, GERMANY - MARCH 20: A dove is pictures in front of the sun during a partial solar eclipse on March 20, 2015 in Muncih, Germany. Over Central Europe the moon was scheduled to cover approximately 75% of the sun for a short period starting at approximately 9:30am. The next solar eclipse will not occur until 2021. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
FUNCHAL, MADEIRA, PORTUGAL - MARCH 20: Clouds pass across the sun which is pictured during a partial solar eclipse over the Madeira Islands. The moon was scheduled to cover approximately 75% of the sun and was pictured during the first found of the Madeira Islands Open the at Santo da Serra Golf Club in Santo da Serra on March 20, 2015 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Jakub Moravec from Prague in the Czech Republic lies in his hospital bed at the Longyearbyen Hospital on Spitsbergen island, part of the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic, on March 19, 2015. He was attacked by a polar bear whilst sleeping in a tent near Fredheim early that morning. The bear was eventually chased away and later put down. AFP PHOTO / NTB SCANPIX / HAKON MOSVOLD LARSEN +++ NORWAY OUT +++ (Photo credit should read Hakon Mosvold Larsen/AFP/Getty Images)
The remains of the polar bear which attacked Jakub Moravec from Prague in the Czech Republic is pictured on Spitsbergen island, part of the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic, on March 19, 2015. He was attacked by a polar bear whilst sleeping in a tent near Fredheim early that morning. The bear was eventually chased away and later put down. AFP PHOTO / NTB SCANPIX / HAKON MOSVOLD LARSEN +++ NORWAY OUT +++ (Photo credit should read Hakon Mosvold Larsen,Hakon Mosvold Larsen/AFP/Getty Images)
NORWAY - JUNE 15: Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay), Spitsbergen, Svalbard Islands, Norway. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
SVALBARD, NORWAY - MAY 9: Walruses bask in the High Arctic sun in Norway's Svalbard archipelago. (Paul Watson/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
NORTH SPITSBERGEN, NORWAY - JUNE 06: A female polar bear ventures close to a visiting boat over the moving ice flow on June 6, 2012 in Vaigattfjellet, North Spitsbergen, Norway. North Spitsbergen expects a record 39,000 tourists this year as the region has been boosted by the exposure from recent television documentaries and was also the site of a tragedy last year when British teenager Horatio Chapple, 17, was attacked and killed near the Von Postbreen glacier on the island. (David Yarrow/Getty Images)
A shopping center on the main street of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, an archipeligo administered by Norway on March 19, 2015 ahead of the March 20 total solar eclipse in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, an archipeligo administered by Norway. Thousands are gathering here as the only land the total eclipse will be seen from is on Svalbard and the Faoroe Islands off Iceland. AFP PHOTO / STAN HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
This combo of different phases of the solar eclipse seen from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, an archipeligo administered by Norway, on March 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NTB SCANPIX / Jon Olav Nesvold +++ NORWAY OUT (Photo credit should read JON OLAV NESVOLD/AFP/Getty Images)
The solar eclipse as seen from Longyearbyen on Svalbard, Friday 20 March, 2015
The solar eclipse as seen from Longyearbyen on Svalbard, Friday 20 March, 2015
A total solar eclipse can be seen in Svalbard, Longyearbyen, Norway, on March 20, 2015. A partial eclipse of varying degrees is visible, depending on weather conditions, across most of Europe, northern Africa, northwest Asia and the Middle East, before finishing its show close to the North Pole. AFP PHOTO / NTB SCANPIX / HAAKON MOSVOLD LARSEN +++ NORWAY OUT (Photo credit should read Haakon Mosvold Larsen/AFP/Getty Images)
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The population of the 18 rocky islands between Scotland and Iceland has swelled by approximately 10,000 for a few days from its normal 48,000 souls.

"There has never, never been so many people on the islands before," said Theresa Kreutzmann, head of the tourism office in Torshavn.

The two best places to fully experience the total solar eclipse are the Faeroes, where the moon covers the sun completely for 2 minutes 45 seconds, and Svalbard, more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of the Norwegian mainland, where it will be 15 seconds shorter.

A partial solar eclipse can be seen across Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. Britain's Meteorological Office says 95 percent of the sun will be covered in the Hebrides, Orkneys and Shetland Islands.

Although Faeroese camping sites have opened ahead of time for those willing to brave nighttime temperatures of around 1.5 degrees Celsius (35 degrees Fahrenheit), authorities on Svalbard have reminded last-minute visitors that bringing a sleeping bag and finding a cozy corner for the night is not an option. The thermometer there hovers around minus 15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit), and safety must come first: Polar bears roam freely and when moving outside settlements, one needs firearms.

On average, three bears are shot in self-defense every year on Svalbard with an estimated polar bears population of 3,000. Visitors have been attacked - on Thursday, a bear attacked a tent in which a tourist was sleeping, and in 2011, a British teenager was fatally mauled by a bear that attacked the tent he was sleeping in.

"We don't have polar bears here," laughed Torstein Christiansen, tourist chief in Torshavn, adding the main problems in the Faeroes are the car traffic and the treacherous and sudden fog that can quickly wrap the islands and its steep cliffs.

Finnur Johansen, 82, is eagerly awaiting the total solar eclipse. He recalls the one in 1954 on the Faroe Islands when the animals were fooled by the sudden darkness.

"I remember the reaction of the birds. They go to sleep. The hen, they go in to hen house, under the perch, and slept there with the head under the wing," Johansen said.

If eclipse-chasers have been preparing for years, local authorities have been doing the same, Christiansen said. Authorities have posted online information to help visitors find accommodation and the best spots to be for the eclipse.

Solar eclipse merchandising - including books and toy puffins in eclipse T-shirts - are on sale, hotel prices have risen and a ferry boat has been moored in Torshavn to house visitors.

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