Archive for Solar Eclipse

That Was The Eclipse That Was..

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on March 20, 2015 by telescoper

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.

eclipse_crowd

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..

Eclipse_me

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

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