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On Friday 20 March 2015 we were treated to a partial eclipse of the Sun. The eclipse began at about 08.25 when the Moon took its first “bite” out of the solar disc and ended at about 10.30. The weather first thing was not looking too promising with mist and low cloud covering the sky. But luck was with us and the clouds started to lift literally as the eclipse began so from Stroud it was possible to observe the whole 2 hour event. Most students who had science period 1 were able to see the point of maximum eclipse which occurred at about 09.25 with 88% of the Sun being covered by the Moon. There were various methods employed to view the eclipse safely – some students had brought eclipse viewing glasses, others made pinhole cameras to view a small image of the Sun on a screen and the science department set up a telescope to project a magnified image of the eclipse on to a screen for students to look at.

Some of the A level physics students set up data loggers to monitor the light levels and outside temperature throughout the eclipse. It was fascinating to see how these changed during the event with a considerable drop in both light level and temperature around the time of maximum eclipse - a fact noticed by everyone who was outside at that time.  It was a useful reminder of how dependent we are on the Sun’s energy for our light and warmth.

If you are eagerly anticipating the next solar eclipse you will have to wait until August 2026 for a good partial eclipse like the one just past. As for the next total solar eclipse visible from the UK, well I’m afraid you will have to wait until September 2090! Put it in your diaries.

Andrew Moseley-Packer, Science Department

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