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A solar eclipse! And it's not cloudy! - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
A solar eclipse! And it's not cloudy!
I watched the solar eclipse in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1999 with my students. Cloud made viewing difficult, but we did manage to see the eclipse using the pinhole projection method. The lasting memory is how grey and weird the light went and how cold it seemed for the rest of the day, as though the sunlight we'd been deprived of for that hour or so had left a warmth deficit.

As I wouldn't be able to take time out of the type of teaching I'm doing now, I was really pleased that today's eclipse fell on a day when I didn't have to work. Here is how it happened in my corner of North Wales.

8:30 am Oooo! The eclipse has started here in the UK. I made a pinhole viewer out of a shoebox and with that I can see that the moon has taken a tiny bite out of the sun.

9:00 am The sun is almost half hidden and the quality of the light has changed. It's noticeable that it's not as bright as it should be for this time of day with an utterly cloudless sky.

9:10 am Just a crescent of sun left now. As I popped out of the front door to take a look at how things were progressing, my neighbour came out carrying a colander and a sheet of paper. I didn't know that was a way of viewing an eclipse, but she said it worked. I will stick with my shoebox.

9:29 am There is just a thin crescent, like a fingernail paring left of the sun. The view of the eclipse from the BBC webcam is deceptive though. The sky is not actually black, it's twilight blue and I've realised that the feeling of strangeness is due to the light being twilightish in terms of quality while the height and angle of the sun tells the brain that it should be bright morning.

9:55 am The light outside is brightening and I just popped out with the pinhole viewer to find that the sun is now a much fatter crescent. Still partially obscured though.

9:58 am Just had a quick look on Facebook and the Habit Tavern and all my online friends are moaning about the non-event due to cloud cover over London, the SE of England and Germany. *Tries not to be smug* For once Welsh weather defied the stereotype to give us perfect viewing conditions. :)

10:02 am Sun is an even fatter crescent now.

10:06 am The light is almost back to normal now. It's like having a second morning. I think the birds thought that too because there was more random birdsong than is normal for the time of day.

10:22 am Sun almost back to normal. Just a small bite missing.

10:36 am As far as I can see, the moon has moved on and the sun is totally visible again, though the cloud that has now appeared makes it difficult to see. I'm so glad the cloud held off until now. For once the weather gods timed things perfectly!

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

12 comments or Leave a comment
ellarien From: ellarien Date: March 20th, 2015 11:08 am (UTC) (Link)
It was pretty cloudy here and I never managed to get a convincing pinhole image, but around 9.30 it got very gloomy, and I did catch glimpses of the thin crescent sun in the clouds. It cleared up a bit later on and I might have seen pinhole images with a bite out, but still not very compelling. Then I watched the webcast of the Svalbard total eclipse on slooh.com.

(Being a solar physicist means I get a pass for messing around watching eclipses in work time.)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 20th, 2015 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Back in 1999 we actually watched part of the eclipse through the cloud cover. Occasionally the clouds parted so we could use the pinhole to view progress.
From: cmcmck Date: March 20th, 2015 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Way too dull for anything much here. Didn't even really notice it getting darker as it was that dull. :o(
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 20th, 2015 03:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
That is a shame. I know everyone across SE England and parts of Europe and Scandinavia were disappointed. It's a miracle it was clear here.
trenton22 From: trenton22 Date: March 20th, 2015 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I enjoyed your report. Thanks!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 20th, 2015 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm about to post some photos. Don't hold your breath though, they're not very exciting. :)
From: aulus_poliutos Date: March 20th, 2015 03:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Most of Germany had excellent conditions, only to the north were some clouds. At my place, we got a 75% coverage of the sun by dear ol' earth, so the sun was still shining albeit more muted. The light was a bit like you'd expect during morning twilight. OUr peak was at 10:42.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 20th, 2015 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having said in my post that it was cloudy in Germany, as you say, I realised later reading more posts from friends that it depended on which area you were in. I'm glad you could see it.
kaishin108 From: kaishin108 Date: March 20th, 2015 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
How great to watch. Thank you for the break down :-)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 20th, 2015 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've just posted some photos. Don't hold your breath though, they're not very exciting. :)
puddleshark From: puddleshark Date: March 20th, 2015 07:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
How wonderful! A proper eclipse!

Complete cloud cover here, but it did get unnaturally dark for a short while.
nutmeg3 From: nutmeg3 Date: March 20th, 2015 11:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the play-by-play. And what an interesting thought, that the missing hour left you cold.
12 comments or Leave a comment