By Doug Bickley
Whilst astronomers aren’t afraid of the dark it’s lovely sometimes to get together during the day for an event and a chinwag with other members. This partial eclipse, even though the obscuration was only about 15%, seemed a good opportunity, so we arranged a meeting at our observatory. This was combined with induction training and reminders for the observatory pod plus a bit of ground clearance.
First contact would be at 10:07, maximum eclipse at 10:57 and the Moon would leave the edge of the Sun at 11:48, so we met between just after 9am to get everyone in and set up. The last partial eclipse event in June 2021 attracted 14 members and so did this one, not all the same people however! Cloud cover was forecast to spoil our observations, but it was a dry morning. When we got there we had clear skies and Steve Wootton proudly said “there we are, I’ve arranged the weather for you”. Tempting fate – by 10am there were heavyish clouds lasting on and off until just before midday, the end of the eclipse, and then we had blue skies again. Typical.
However despite the poor seeing conditions it wasn’t 100% cloudy all the time and there were plenty of gaps at which point someone might shout “eclipse alert” and we’d stop our chats to see the latest views. For the imagers among us most had Baader solar filters, but when the cloud was fairly thick the sun was still visible and we could use these as a natural filter – ok if you know what you are doing folks.
There was quite a variety of equipment in use and we could move around and see how everyone was doing. This is one of the great things about a group event, there’s no “best way” to do things and we all learn from each other.
All in all despite the adverse weather conditions a successful event, the scenery was as usual wonderful, close to our setup was a fantastic fairy ring about 15ft across and nearby the squirrels had been busy with fallen conkers. Good to see people in the flesh again.