Sunday, 15 March 2015

Partial Solar Eclipse - Friday March 20th 2015

This Friday sees the first solar eclipse visible from the UK since 2011. In Banbury the eclipse will begin at approximately 8:25 am and will end at 10:40 am. The point of maximum eclipse will occur at 9:30 am, at which time over 80% of the Sun's disc will be covered.
Maximum eclipse from Banbury
Image credit: timeanddate.com
A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth casting a shadow. This happens at New Moon when the Sun, Moon and Earth are in alignment with each other. If the Moon's orbit was not tilted with respect to Earth's orbit this would occur every month but the Moon's shadow usually misses us.

The Sun, Moon and Earth during an eclipse
Image credit: Telegraph.co.uk


At the Space Studio we will be attempting to observe the eclipse using a number of methods, including: eclipse glasses, projection, white light filters and hydrogen alpha filters. Please remember that it is dangerous to look at the Sun without specialist equipment even when it is eclipsed.

We are planning to film the eclipse and hope to put a live feed on this page (weather permitting). We will also be taking part in the solar eclipse weather experiment organised by Stargazing Live and the University of Reading. Students will be measuring wind speed, temperature and making estimates of percentage cloud cover during the eclipse. This will help us to understand more about phenomena such as the eclipse wind - when the cooling of the air during an eclipse can lead to changes in wind flow. Meteorologists are hoping to obtain the largest ever number of weather related measurements for this year's eclipse, providing valuable data which will help enhance our understanding of how the atmosphere responds to these events.

To read more about the weather experiment visit:  http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/outreach/newex_2015/index.html

If you are a student at the Space Studio and would like to be involved in taking weather measurements or photographs, please see Miss Flood before Friday to be assigned a role.

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