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97% Eclipse Seen
Clouds spoil day in Cornwall,
France offers blue skies
Everything stopped at 11.19am in Windsor
as the Solar Eclipse reached its peak. Although the total eclipse
should have been seen in the West Country, hundreds of thousands
of hopeful viewers who had travelled down in previous days to
witness the event were unlucky! Thick cloud covered the area,
often as high as 20,000 feet, and so they were to be disappointed.
Here in Windsor the weather was better
and although the moon was not to totally obscure the sun, groups
gathered in the streets sharing the special tinted glasses and
even coming up with novel ideas such as colanders, to focus the
image of the eclipse onto any white surface that cam e to hand,
One surprised eclipse watcher even noticed that the partially
obscured image of the moon passing in front of the sun could
be reflected onto the wall by his watch!
Anne Chesney of The Bexley Arms described
how everyone stopped work to stand in the street and watch, laughing
and joking, sharing a moment of great excitement. "The whole
street was quiet," Anne said, "There was no traffic,
just groups of people standing and staring. It was a great moment."
The first truly clear point at which it
was possible to view the total eclipse was just north of Le Havre
in France a few minutes later. With the West of England and the
Channel Islands being cloudy, here was the first glimpse of totality
in a rare patch of blue sky. Families lined the cliff tops for
several hours beforehand, complete with their French government
sponsored glasses to watch as the shadow of the moon raced in
from across the Channel.
Although the sky was cloudy all around,
at this point at any rate a perfect view was to be had, with
the moon slowly passing in front of the sun, the light fading
slowly at first, then quite suddenly to an eerie twilight, and
at the same time the temperature dropped significantly. Bailey's
Beads were clearly visible as sun light streamed through the
valleys on the moon's surface, and at totality a great corona
of bright light shone outwards from the black central disk. Cheers
and clapping echoed around across the fields. Children and adults
alike stood in awe as the spectacle peaked.
All to soon, the sun began to reappear
from behind the moon and the opportunity to enjoy a total eclipse
During the journey that afternoon on 'The
Pride of Portsmouth' an elderly lady described how, for a birthday
treat, she had been taken to Portsmouth to travel out and back
on the same ferry to view the eclipse from mid-channel. Here
too the clouds parted for a while and all on board, including
the crew, stopped everything to stand and gaze on deck. Although
she had to wake at three in the morning to be at the docks in
time, she said it was a wonderful day, not to be missed! So if
you are reading this in 2090... make the effort!!
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