Sunday, 15 March 2015

Solar Eclipse - Friday March 20th, 2015


An eclipsed crescent sun rises over Malton during the May 2003 eclipse

 This coming Friday (20th march 2015), we have a unique chance to see a spectacular partial eclipse of the sun - weather permitting of course.

When will it start?
Starting at 828 am the moon will start to take a bite out of the suns disk and by 934 am the sun will have shrunk to a narrow crescent, leaving just 10% of the sun visible - even less than in the picture above, which shows a crescent sun from an eclipse in 2003.

In fact from Huttons Ambo the sun will be fractionally more obscured than in the famous 1999 eclipse, which was total in parts of Cornwall.

After 934 am the moon will start to leave the suns disk and everything will be back to normal at 1043am.

How can I view it?
The safest way is to make a simple pinhole camera - make a hole in a piece of card or paper and stick it to a window. The hole in the card will cast an image of the suns disk and you will see the disk gradually turn into a crescent as the moon starts to obscure the sun - project the image onto a piece of paper to make it brighter.

Don't, under any circumstances, look directly at the sun, either with your naked eyes or with binoculars or a telescope, you will permanently lose your sight.

Will it get dark?
No, but it will get noticeably gloomy as the light levels drop and you might find the temperature falls as well. During the 1999 partial eclipse the change in light level was very noticeable and insects and birds stopped flying as the temperature dropped.

 You can find about some other safe ways of observing the eclipse here: http://www.radiotimes.com/eclipse

And there is a good animation of the eclipse here: http://astro.ukho.gov.uk/eclipse/0112015/uk/uk_2015.html but you'll need to find the tag for York on the map and click on it to see the animation

Let's hope for decent weather!

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