That Was The Eclipse That Was..

It’s been an astronomical and meteorological rollercoaster of a morning. When I woke up at 6am this morning, the Sun was just rising. There was hazy cloud and there seemed to be every chance that it would break up to allowing viewing of today’s partial solar eclipse. Unfortunately, however, the cloud thickened rather than breaking up so I abandoned my plan to watch from the seafront and headed up to the University of Sussex campus at Falmer. Being higher up and a few miles inland, the weather is often clearer in Falmer than in Brighton. Unfortunately it was even murkier when I got here, so I assumed I was in for a disappointing morning.

Nevertheeclipse_cloudsless I did join the large gathering in Library Square to experience the event. First contact between the Moon and the Sun happened at about 8.30, but the cloud cover was total at that point so nothing was visible. It did get gradually darker, but this happened slowly enough for eyes to adapt to the dark so it wasn’t all that noticeable to us humans. The birds on campus certainly noticed, however, and began to perform display roosting behaviour thinking it was evening. It also got really very cold.

Around 9.30 the coverage of the Sun by the Moon was about its maximum – 85% or so – but everything was still enshrouded in cloud. The crowd waited patiently in the gloom. It was a very British experience, a large group of people sharing their sense of collective disappointment in appropriately stoical fashion.


Gradually the wind seemed to increase, pushing the clouds over more quickly and causing them to break up. Then, suddenly, a small gap in the cloud opened up and there was the eclipse. For about a second. It may have been only a moment, but it generated a huge cheer which, I should add, wasn’t entirely ironic. The breaking up of the clouds continued and we were treated to several good views of the main event. It was definitely worth it.

Most of the pictures I took didn’t come out at all well, but here is one with the famous Meeting House in the foreground:

eclipse_meetingAnd here’s a rather nice picture from John Sander of the International Office at Sussex University, showing yours truly during the final stages of the eclipse..


I’ll add more pictures as I find them. Please feel free to share your comments and observations via the appropriate box!

9 Responses to “That Was The Eclipse That Was..”

  1. Paul Horton Says:

    Hi, Here in Wales .. no cloud to spoil eclipse….clear skies throughout eclipse…… it certainly went darker with an eerie coldness!

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    It looked good from North Shropshire! but I think a lot of people won’t realise (a) the great difference between even a 95% partial and a total eclipse; and (b) the great difference between a total eclipse and having the sun more than 10 degrees below the horizon, which is what it takes for the human eye/brain to declare genuine darkness. (Cats do better.) A 95% partial eclipse is no different from moderately heavy cloud, and a total no different from dusk. but you get those dark bands racing across at supersonic speed with a total, which is fun. (I was on Alderney for 1999.)

    • telescoper Says:

      I was also on Alderney for the 1999 eclipse. We did some filming for the Six Experiments That Changed The World programme I was on there, but didn’t use much of the footage.

      I remember it similarly. Disappointment when clouds were in the way, then joy when they opened up to see the full Monty. Also how the temperature dropped suddenly, and the strange lighting effects causing by moving shadows.

    • Phillip Helbig Says:

      I was also there (with my youngest son (he’s the one in the Tycho avatar) and stepdaughter from my first marriage and a friend of the latter). Indeed, a total eclipse is much more spectacular than any partial or annular. We could see the shadow moving up to the island, feel the sudden drop in temperature, etc. It was in August, reasonably good weather, and during the NAM we stayed at a campground.

  3. Phillip Helbig Says:


  4. Phillip Helbig Says:

    test 2

  5. Phillip Helbig Says:

    I can post comments to this thread without URLs, and can post comments with URLs to other threads, but can’t post comments to this thread with URLs. If I post one, it doesn’t appear. If I post it again, I get a “duplicate comment” message, so it is getting at least as far as WordPress. If I change it slightly so that it isn’t duplicate, again it doesn’t appear. I’ll try posting it in the next eclipse thread.

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