IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - November/December 2016 - 74

figure 1. The 21 August 2017 eclipse path of totality. (Source: NASA.)

The European Experience
There was considerable preparation prior to the European
eclipse. Forecasts were bandied about in the popular press
about triggering blackouts across the entire continent. Even

Solar Eclipse

Sun

Earth

Moon

figure 2. An eclipse takes place when Earth or the moon
passes through a shadow. (Source: NASA.)
74

ieee power & energy magazine

industry organizations were expressing concern, and more
than a few studies were done. But many people, both lay and
professional, seemed to miss an important point: the path of
totality came nowhere near continental Europe or the United
Kingdom. In fact, the path was in the extreme North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, well north of Scandinavia. The only
inhabited areas it included were the Faroe Islands, halfway
between Iceland and the British Isles, and the Norwegian
archipelago of Svalbard, located halfway between continental Norway and the North Pole. The Faroe Islands have a
population of about 50,000, and Svalbard is inhabited by
only 2,600 people. Paris is 970 mi (1,560 km) south of the
Faroe Islands, and Rome more than 1,600 mi (2,580 km).
Even though the path of totality passed far to the north, the
much more populated areas of Europe experienced a partial
eclipse to varying degrees. In London, about 85% of the sun's
area was blocked at the maximum point. The Netherlands,
Belgium, and Denmark experienced about 80%, with lower
numbers all the way south to the Mediterranean. Even Turkey
saw a 25% reduction in sunlight. Some darkening occurred as
far south as North Africa. The black area in Figure 4 shows
the total eclipse and the shaded area shows the penumbra.
november/december 2016



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