By Richard Harvey
With the relaxation of Covid guidelines for outside gatherings for June 2021, we were pleased to be able to safely arrange an outside observation session for the partial solar eclipse which occurred on Thursday 10th June. We once again met at Halfpenny Green Vineyard, and even with a 100% cloud cover forecast, around fourteen members turned up, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Moon’s silhouette obscure part of the Sun. This would be the first partial eclipse viewable from the West Midlands since 2015.
Luckily, despite the poor forecast, the clouds sporadically thinned out enough for us to catch glimpses of the event. It certainly wasn’t perfect viewing conditions, as the Sun was obscured by cloud during much of the two hours. But now and then someone would should the warning “you can see it!” and we’d all rush to our scopes or cameras as the clouds thinned and afforded us a view. The clouds acted as a natural filter, and most of our sun filters were left unused.
We had assembled a variety of instruments to view or image the event, from large Newtonian reflectors to table-top dobsonians, small reflectors and one wooden ‘Sunspotter’ which safely projected the image of the Sun onto a white surface. Doug set up a screen with video feed of the event, and member Adam Foster was also broadcasting a live feed from his home in Sedgley.
First contact was just after 10am (BST), with maximum partial eclipse at around 11.13. The maximum percentage of obscured disc was around 23%. Despite the adverse weather conditions, we agreed the event was a success, and quite a few people commented how nice it was to see people ‘in the flesh’ again.
After the event, several members stayed behind to visit the vineyard delicatessen and café, and had a most enjoyable lunch on the outside terrace. Once again, our thanks to Admin Manager Bev, and the staff at Halfpenny Green Vineyard. This was our third event here and everyone was as helpful and accommodating as ever.