Avoid Cattle During the Eclipse

LONDON -- Britons were warned to stay away from cows and light aircraft during next week's total eclipse of the sun.

And Britain's biggest-selling tabloid fueled the eclipse mania with 10 outrageous things to do during next Wednesday's two minutes of total darkness.

In the summer silly season when a dearth of news descends on the British media, the eclipse has proved a lifeline.

No angle, however trivial, is ignored.

Birds and animals will not be alone in suffering confusion.

Thousands of photo-sensitive street lights will flicker into life across the eclipse's path in western England. Eclipse watchers standing beneath street lamps will fail to see the full effect of the phenomena and will instead be bathed in artificial light.

Astronomers were warned to stick to the countryside.

But other dangers could lurk there.

NFU Mutual, the farmers' insurance company, said livestock, disoriented by the sudden darkness, might behave unpredictably and should not be approached. Even docile cows, especially those with calves, could feel threatened.

"There is a real danger livestock could panic, causing harm to themselves or inflicting injury," the company said.

Staff at Paignton Zoo in Devon in the southwest will keep elephants and giraffes inside in case they injure themselves.

During Britain's last total eclipse, in 1927, badgers and bats were so confused they emerged from their nocturnal lairs.

The skies could be as deadly as the countryside.

The Civil Aviation Authority has urged private pilots not to fly during the onset of darkness.

"Because of the potential for air space congestion and limited air traffic control, pilots are strongly recommended not to fly within the zone of totality during the eclipse," it said in a circular to pilots.

All 2,000 small aircraft slots in western England have been booked and up to 20 airliners are flying in passengers for special events.

The Sun, Britain's biggest daily tabloid, put its tongue firmly in cheek for a countdown special.

"Eat approximately five carrots to improve your nighttime vision just in time to have your retinas burnt to a crisp as the sun re-emerges from behind the moon," it suggested.

Two minutes would also give you enough time to make love twice, write "French Pop Legends of the 20th Century" and pick the next England cricket team. "Alternatively you could just lock yourself in a darkened room ... then just thank the good lord that it will be another 91 years before the next total eclipse over Britain."