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.
The evening began at Perton Library listening to Andrew Lound give his talk Apollo – A Moon Odyssey 50th Anniversary Special. Andrew’s talk was fascinating, full of interesting information about the Apollo missions and original footage from 1969.
There were displays around the library featuring photos and artefacts from the Moon landings, which Doug had set up in conjunction with the library. It was all very impressive. After Andrew’s talk there was much discussion amongst a few of us as to where would be the best place to go to attempt to view that evening’s Partial Lunar Eclipse. Several people decided to stay in Perton and go to the lake area to view it, Richard suggested heading out Albrighton way as he thought there might be some good viewing points there.
The solar eclipse on the 21st August 2017 was the first eclipse on mainland America since 1979, and the first eclipse since 1918 to travel completely across the American continent. Given the increases in population and the land mass concerned, (it crossed fourteen states, and the path of totality covered 14% of US soil), it’s been estimated that it was the most viewed eclipse in human history. It’s little wonder then that it was called ‘The Great American Eclipse’. (picture 0)
My eclipse trip started at Heathrow on the 18th August. At 6am that morning there was a beautiful clear sky that presented a thin crescent waning moon by Venus, (my camera was packed away, so I didn’t get a photo). With only three days to go before the eclipse, as I watched the moon rise outside the airport I pondered on how the crescent would get even thinner over the next few days, till the moon would seemingly vanish from the sky and be completely ‘backlit’. It does this every lunar month of course, but this particular month, the moon’s position in the sky meant that it would move directly in front of the sun at 1.34pm on Monday, and weather permitting, grant us one of the finest astronomical treats.