TORSHAVN, Faeroe Islands — For months, even years, hotels on the remote Faeroe Islands have been fully booked by fans who don’t want to miss an almost three-minute-long astronomical sensation. Now the sky gazers just hope the clouds will blow away so they can fully experience Friday’s total solar eclipse.

Scores of eclipse chasers and scientists have invaded the archipelago armed with telescopes, cameras and glasses for safe direct solar viewing ahead of the big event.

The weather forecast is better more than 1,270 miles to the northeast, in the Arctic islands of Svalbard, where spectators can hope for a clear day. The full eclipse will only be seen in a narrow path across the Northern Hemisphere, reaching the Faeroes at 5:45 a.m. EDT Friday.

“This is our 10th total eclipse. We love to watch them and being able to look at the corona with your eyes in the middle of the eclipse is really an exciting moment, to experience the diamond rings coming and going,” said Les Anderson, a 60-year-old from San Diego, California, in the Faeroe capital of Torshavn.

The population of the 18 rocky islands between Scotland and Iceland has swelled by about 10,000 for a few days from its usual 48,000 souls.

“There has never, never been so many people on the islands before,” said Theresa Kreutzmann, head of the tourism office in Torshavn.

Solar eclipse merchandise – including books and toy puffins in eclipse T-shirts – is on sale, hotel prices have risen and a ferry is moored in Torshavn to house visitors.

The two best places to fully experience the total solar eclipse are the Faeroes, where the moon covers the sun completely for 2 minutes 45 seconds, and Svalbard, more than 500 miles north of the Norwegian mainland, where it will be 15 seconds shorter.

A partial solar eclipse can be seen across Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. Britain’s Meteorological Office says 95 percent of the sun will be covered in the Hebrides, Orkneys and Shetland Islands.