Millions of people across London stopped to watch the first solar eclipse of the century as the capital was plunged into near darkness.
Huge crowds gathered in open spaces such as Hyde Park and Regent’s Park and at vantage points including Primrose Hill to witness the once-in-a-generation phenomenon.
However, thick cloud swathed across southern England meant that Londoners were not able to witness the eclipse in its full glory.
But there was a palpable sense of excitement as the gloom deepened dramatically on the morning of the Spring equinox when the moon blotted out the sun.
Drivers turned on their lights as dusk came early to London while temperatures briefly plummeted to night-time levels, BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis said in a tweet: “Primrose hill has gone eclipse mad.”
In London the partial eclipse began at 8.24am, and reached its peak at 9.31am when the face of the sun was 85 per cent obscured by the moon. The eclipse ended at 10.41am.
The best views in Britain were over Wales, much of the Midlands and the eastern Scotland around Edinburgh, where skies were clearer.
A 100 per cent eclipse was only visible from two land masses: the Faroe Islands between Scotland and Iceland and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.
In Regent’s Park, Stephen and Alison Currid, 55 and 47, from St John’s Wood, told how they brought their four children so they could witness their first ever eclipse because the last one took place in 1999 before they were born.
Mrs Currid, a full-time mother, and Mr Currid, a full-time photographer watched with their three daughters Moon, 12, Kookie, 10, Snowy, 8, and son Ziggy, 6, with eclipse glasses they bought from Ebay.
Mrs Currid said: “It’s just great to be here with the kids and as a family. At UCL Academy, where Moon attends, they are going to be giving presentations on it.
“It’s just wonderful to bring them to come and see their first eclipse and be able to tell about they they’ve seen and why they’ve seen it.”
A solar eclipse takes place when the Earth, moon and sun are aligned and the moon’s shadow touches the Earth’s surface.
There were anecdotal reports of an “eclipse wind” – a breeze that appears as a solar eclipse reaches its peak – and breaks in the cloud appearing as the atmosphere cools.