Friday, 20 March 2015

Let Down by London Skies

One of my most vivid childhood memories was that of a solar eclipse.  They made a big deal of it in school and tricked everyone out with welding glasses and pinhole cameras and warned us up and down not to actually look at the thing.  I remember it being spring, and the entire school was allowed to run wild on the lawn for the occasion.  

It was quite the eerie event.  It was a bright, perfectly sunny spring afternoon and once the eclipse started, it became progressively darker.  The thing I remember most vividly is the symphony of bird song as the birds began to urgently roost in the false twilight.  It was deafening, and once the moon had moved away and the earth began to warm up again, there was a sort of embarrassing silence as the birds realized it was just a false alarm.  It was magic, and being a nerdy kid into science and astronomy and birds and nature and just getting outside during a school day made it pretty much the best day ever.         

I was quite excited for this one that could be seen over England this morning.  I woke up early, planning to go out to climb the hill in Greenwich and see it from the Royal Observatory.  Alas, thwarted by rather English weather, I realized I might as well just look out my window as I couldn't even figure out which direction east was based on the sun.  The day started out darkly cloudy, got darker and more gloomy, and then went back to being just regularly darkly cloudy.  I don't think anyone in London really noticed that there was an eclipse at all.  

The magic moment of the near-total eclipse:

Naturally, the afternoon is blindingly sunny.

Thanks, Obama.

Happy Equinox!

1 comment:

  1. We only have to wait until 2090 for the next one!! I remember seeing the 1999 eclipse and made the most of it, luckily.