Photos: Watching the Eclipse, Often Through the Clouds

A total solar eclipse occurs over Svalbard March 20, 2015. Haakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB scanpix/Reuters

TORSHAVN, Faroe Islands (Reuters) - A solar eclipse thrilled thousands of sky gazers on remote Arctic islands on Friday but clouds disappointed some viewers of a rare celestial show that was also partly visible for millions in Europe, Africa and Asia.

People cheered and clapped as the moon blocked the sun for about 2.5 minutes under clear skies on the icy Norwegian islands of Svalbard, where tourists had been warned of risks of frostbite and polar bears after an attack on Thursday.

School children wearing protective glasses pose for photographers outside The Royal Observatory during a partial solar eclipse in Greenwich, south east London March 20, 2015. Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

But clouds masked the sky over Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands further south and the only other place where a total eclipse was visible from land as the moon's shadow skimmed across the Atlantic.

"It was overcast, there was rain and wind. You could see nothing. It was a disappointment for everybody," said Gabor Lantos, a Hungarian tourist. "Some tourists were so irritated, they argued with tour operators, demanding their money back."

Others were more awestruck by the sudden darkness.

A partial solar eclipse in seen above a mosque in Oxford, central England March 20, 2015. Eddie Keogh/Reuters

"It was worth coming here from Australia, probably not as good as the 2012 eclipse we saw in Cairns, but still worth coming," said Australian visitor Michael Tonks. Street lights came on automatically as the sky blackened.

Some eclipse viewers gathered on an icy mountainside in Svalbard. "We couldn't ask for more. It was stunning," said Ronny Brunvoll, head of the Visit Svalbard organization.

In Svalbard, a polar bear mauled a Czech tourist on Thursday, breaking into his tent as he slept. Jakub Moravev, flown by helicopter to hospital, escaped with light injuries to his face, chest and an arm.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima wear sunglasses as they watch a partial solar eclipse in Hamburg, March 20, 2015. Fabian Bimmer/Reuters


The Faroe Islands expected about 8,000 visitors on top of the archipelago's 50,000 population for the first eclipse in the region in 60 years. About 2,000 people made the trek to Svalbard, doubling the population there.

"I've seen aurora, I've seen some volcano eruptions, but the total eclipse is still the most spectacular thing I've ever seen. And each one is unique," said Fred Espenak, a retired NASA astrophysicist in Torshavn.

The shadow of a partial eclipse is cast on to the cheek of a student on the roof of the Jana Dlugosza Academy in Czestochowa March 20, 2015. Grzegorz Skowronek/Agencja Gazeta/Reuters

In an eclipse, when skies are clear, stars and planets are suddenly visible in daytime and a ring of fire - the corona - appears around the sun.

In one famous experiment, a 1919 eclipse provided evidence for Einstein's theory of relativity by showing that the sun's mass bent light from distant stars.

A view from a plane during the so-called "Eclipse Flight" from the Russian city of Murmansk to observe the solar eclipse above the neutral waters of the Norwegian Sea, March 20, 2015. Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

On Friday, electrical grids claimed success in managing the unprecedented disruption to solar power from the eclipse that brought sudden, massive swings in supply over a 2-1/2-hour period.

The small audience on Friday contrasted with tens of millions of people who saw the last major eclipse in Europe in 1999. This time around, a partial eclipse was visible mainly in Europe and Russia, and glanced parts of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

A solar eclipse is viewed by ESA's Sun-watching Proba-2 minisatellite, using it's SWAP imager to capture the Moon passing in front of the Sun in a near-totality, in this handout image provided by the Royal Observatory of Belgium March 20, 2015. ESA/Royal Observatory of Belgium/Handout via Reuters
A combination photo shows the different phases of the total solar eclipse as it occurred over Longyearbyen on Svalbard March 20, 2015. Jon Olav Nesvold/NTB scanpix/Reuters

Twitter was dominated by the eclipse, with seven of the top 10 trending terms related to the sun and moon in Germany. And the German word for "doomsday" was the ninth most popular topic.

Members of military band look up to view a partial solar eclipse before a welcoming ceremony for Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan in the Ukrainian capital Kiev March 20, 2015. Gleb Garanich/Reuters
People look up to view a partial solar eclipse around the Giza Pyramids, on the outskirts of Cairo, March 20, 2015. Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
A partial solar eclipse is seen over a statue at the Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant'Angelo, in Rome March 20, 2015. Yara Nardi/Reuters
People wearing special sunglasses wait for a total solar eclipse on Svalbard March 20, 2015. Haakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB/Reuters
A girl uses a welding mask to view a partial solar eclipse from Bradgate Park in Newtown Linford, central England March 20, 2015. Darren Staples/Reuters
The solar eclipse is seen over Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, Salisbury, southern England March 20, 2015. Kieran Doherty/Reuters