Eclipse watchers catch only fleeting glimpses

TELESCOPES lay dormant at La Societe Guernesiaise’s main observatory in St Peter’s yesterday, as keen astronomers relied on solar eclipse glasses to witness fleeting glimpses of a partial obscuration of the sun by the moon.

A few dozen adults did their best to observe the phenomenon, accompanied by visiting groups from the neighbouring La Houguette Primary School and Monkey Puzzle School at Kings.

The best telescopes available to the astronomy section of La Societe had been readied for the event but they provide such a high magnification, that a constant visibility is required to fix them on a target for observation. Instead, the onlookers made do with what glimpses they could get.

Jean Dean's image of the partial solar eclipse sequence from Guernsey on 10 June 2021. (29644092)

The partial eclipse was at its maximum at 11.05am, with just under one third of the sun obscured. However, the ‘bite’ out of the apparent disc developed and then diminished over the course of two hours.

Inside the observatory, live pictures were being shown of some considerably more impressive views of the eclipse, which was almost total along a line stretching from mid-north Canada through Greenland and the Arctic Circle to eastern Russia.

Patsy Self, left, and Mary Thompson were two of those using special eclipse viewing glasses as conditions did not allow La Societe’s telescopes to be used. (29640983)

However, Elaine Mahy from the astronomy section, explained that even in Canada, the eclipse was not quite total.

‘Because the moon is slightly further away at the moment, in its orbit, it appears a little bit smaller than the sun. So it leaves a ring-of-fire eclipse – an annular solar eclipse. You don’t get to see the corona but you do get to see this fantastic ring in the sky.’

Nick Despres attended as a keen observer and was pleased to see as much as he did.

‘It’s actually very exciting and I’m so pleased that we’ve had those brief little windows of hazy cloud which has enabled us to see that very clear notch out of the top of the sun.’

Fellow onlooker Stephen Sweet said weather-affected eclipses were ‘business as usual’.

He said he was now looking forward to a total eclipse which would be visible from Luxor in Egypt in 2027.

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