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eclipse_anim.gif (14515 bytes) Eclipse 1999

Eclipse 1999

11 August, 1999

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eclipse_anim.gif (14515 bytes) An eclipse will happen in your lifetime if you are lucky.

The last eclipse in England was in 1927. For people who were born then and old enough to appreciate it they are lucky to be witnessing their second without having to leave home. For those of us witnessing this eclipse we may not be so lucky as the people who witnessed the 1927 eclipse. The next one won't be for another 91 years, in 2090. The sort of date we see in science fiction films.

Speaking to people who have witnessed eclipses in other parts  of the world they said the things that struck them most were the darkness and the cold and the quietness. Birds stop singing - treating the eclipse as a short night.

eclipse_anim.gif (14515 bytes) There are some excellent sites around for informatoin about the eclipse and there will be live internet broadcasts as the eclipse progresses on its path across the continents. Some will see it better than others with cloud cover being the greatest threat to spoinling the view. The Uk has a 50/50 chance of not seeing it due to cloud with the middle east having the best chance - rising to a 90% chance of a clear view at Estahan.

But lets be positive. Let's plan that we will see it and that we will have to take precautions to protect our eyes. There are many types of spectacles available and I'm not going to promote any particular sort. These are NOT sunglasses and nobody should look at the sun with ordinary sunglasses.

There are certain types of  film negative which can work well but please get expert advice before using just any sort of negative.

Perhaps the safest is the projected image of the sun.

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To make a simple projection of the sun - and so of the eclipse - you need two pieces of card.

Make a small hole in one and the second acts as a screen.

You allow the rays of the sun to pass through the hole of the first card and the image appears on the second if it is held in the right place.

Move them closer and further apart to change the size of the image. Having the "screen" in the shade helps in the viewing.

Remember to practice this before the day so that you can make the perfect viewer in advance. You don't wnat to be messing around and miss the eclipse!

eclipse_anim.gif (14515 bytes) Below you can see the map of the path of the eclipse. The darkest band shows the area which will see the eclipse in its totality - when the sun will appear to go out. The rest of the map (which includes Hillingdon) will have a partial eclipse at the rate shown in percentages. So we are int he 95% band which means that we will have between 95% and 99.9%. The closer to the grey band you are on the day the closer to a full eclipse you will see. Everyone in one of the percentage bands will see a paartial eclipse and a chunk of the sun will be blotted out.
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Links

The NASA site http://umbra.nascom.nasa.gov/eclipse/990811/rp.html

The Eclipse Site http://www.eclipse.org.uk/

North Yorkshire Education site http://www.dialsolutions.com/nyeclipse/

Sky and Telescope Magazine site http://www.skypub.com/

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