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Clouded out

Predictably, the weather failed to co-operate today and we had solid cloud cover for the entire duration of the eclipse. Still, it wasn't a disaster. It didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped, but it was fun. Two local schools, including my old school, brought over groups of pupils and there were a few other visitors along with several members of Macclesfield Astronomical Society who came with telescopes, just in case. Even though we couldn't look through our own telescopes, we were able to watch the event thanks to some kind souls (High Moon and Universidad Complutense de Madrid) who were webcasting the event from sunny Spain where they had perfect clear skies.

Total solar eclipse of August 1999 from Cornwall, UKAnnular solar eclipse of October 2005 from Madrid, SpainPartial solar eclipse of October 2005 from Jodrell Bank, UK
An illustration of the different kinds of solar eclipse. Click on each image to enlarge. Credit:Megan / XEphem

The above images show the differences between types of solar eclipse. The image on the left shows the total eclipse of August 1999 which was visible from Cornwall, UK (or would have been, if it was clear). Here, the Moon is pretty much the same size as the Sun and blocked the light completely, allowing us to see the Sun's corona. The middle image shows the annulr eclipse of today as you would have seen it if you were in Madrid, Spain. The Moon is further away from us than it was in 1999 so it appears smaller and cannot completely cover the Sun's disk, leaving a ring of light which is bright enough to outshine the corona altogether. The image on the right shows what we would have seen at Jodrell Bank if the weather had been better. We were far enough away from the line of totality that, at most, only about 60% of the Sun was covered by the Moon.

After all that excitement (I still haven't got over my cold - it's very hard to take a group on a tour of the observatory when you keep having coughing fits), I am going to go to sleep I think.

Tags: eclipse | Moon
Posted by Megan on Monday 03rd Oct 2005 (18:15 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink


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