A PARTIAL solar eclipse will be visible across the UK just before sunset on Monday as the moon appears to take a "bite" out of the sun.

The phenomenon will last roughly 40 minutes with the mid-point occurring at different times around the country.

For observers in Edinburgh, the peak of the eclipse will be at 7.58pm and 8.04pm in London.

But gloomy skies are set to stop most people seeing the partial eclipse, forecasters have said today.

On British shores, only people in south-west England and South Wales are expected to have any chance of witnessing the moment through a break in the cloud.

The movement of the moon between the Earth and sun will produce a much more dramatic event in the US, where a total eclipse will turn day to night for two minutes.

Up to five solar eclipses occur each year, but each one is visible only within a limited band across the Earth's surface where the moon's shadow happens to fall.

In the US this year, 14 states will experience a total eclipse along a path stretching from the east to the west coast.

The Royal Astronomical Society warned anyone hoping to catch the phenomenon not to look directly at the sun.

A spokesman said: "Extreme care must be taken when observing the eclipse, because of the blinding brilliance of the sun. Never, ever look directly at the sun through binoculars or a telescope, for you will risk permanent eye damage.

"Even staring at the sun is dangerous, and sunglasses are no protection. Hospitals regularly see patients who have damaged their eyes while watching eclipses. Don't be among them."