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March 20, 2015

Solar Eclipse Viewing Event

Report by: Mike Meynell
The solar eclipse!!! Honestly, it is there (behind the clouds!)

The solar eclipse!!! Honestly, it is there (behind the clouds!)

As I write this short report, I’m staring out at a beautiful sunny day. Hard to believe that only a few hours ago, we were completely clouded out when trying to view the largest partial solar eclipse visible from London since 1999! Ah well, that is the law of sod, is it not? The truth is that despite the leaden skies, we had a wonderful time trying to view the solar eclipse at the Royal Observatory Greenwich this morning.

The Royal Observatory estimate that we had at least 1,500 people in attendance. An extraordinary turnout when you consider the weather conditions and the fact that it was very unlikely that anyone would see even a glimpse of the eclipse. A real shame that we didn’t get to view the eclipse, but the thing that struck me about the whole morning was how much fun people were having. I saw smiling faces everywhere I looked, and that is a testament to all of the Flamsteed volunteers who engaged with the crowds and helped to make the event a huge success despite the weather.

At the eclipse maximum, there is no doubt that the skies got slightly darker. Certainly, the street lights down in Greenwich suddenly turned on, so light levels definitely deteriorated. It also got noticeably colder, so we felt the physical effects of the eclipse, even though we couldn’t see the eclipse itself.

The astronomers at the ROG all remarked on the professionalism of our volunteers and the fact that everyone was having so much fun. I understand that every time the Sky News cameras were pointed our way, they just saw our volunteers chatting to members of the public, with lots of smiles and laughing. What a great image for us to share around the world. More than the astronomical event itself, it’s our engagement with the public that really makes a difference at these events, and all of our volunteers did a brilliant job.

Thank you to all who attended.

Slideshow Video of the Event (video by Mike Meynell – pictures by Mike Dryland, Kerri Farey, Bobby Manoo and Andy Sawers):

Pictures from the Event (by Mike Dryland and Andy Sawers):

More Pictures from the Event (by Bobby Manoo and Kerri Farey):

Posted under: Flamsteed, Meeting Report, Public Solar Viewing