Partial Solar Eclipse Event – 25 October 2022

By Doug Bickley

Collage of group shots at the observatory

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.

Neil Willis using his Dobsonian telescope fitted with Baader film
Neil Willis wasn’t imaging but had a large dob with a Baader film filter fitted. We all agreed that the views through this were excellent, the sun filling the field of view and sunspots very apparent. He also had a very comfortable chair, a good thing while you are waiting patiently for something to happen.
Duncan Willis using a 600mm lens to capture this shot of the eclipse
Duncan Willis got this fantastic clear shot with sunspots very evident using his Canon 70D on a tripod with a 600mm zoom and a 1.4 teleconverter, what a beast. (the camera not Duncan!)
SunSpotter telescope owned by Linda Manas
Linda Manas brought her SunSpotter solar viewer which projected the image of the Sun onto a white surface, and managed to get this excellent shot with her iPad when the sun broke through cloud cover.
The Pod dome observatory
Steve Wootton was taking stills and also had the Society solar telescope a Coronado PST set up near the pod and this was giving excellent views of some large prominences. Some members had not seen these live before.
Steve also took a couple of short videos using his DSLR only showing the clouds moving across the Sun.
Doug Bickley's photo of the partial eclipse
The author was using a Canon 800D with 300mm lens handheld without a tripod but 1/2000 sec shutter speed to minimise camera shake and got this image at maximum obscuration with sunspots again visible.
Collage of scenic views, including conkers and a fairy ring

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.