Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Thursday, July 29, 1999 Published at 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK


Designs on the eclipse

The Tate Gallery, St Ives, displays eclipse art by local children

Those planning to watch the total eclipse of the Sun on 11 August may wish to brush up on the subject before they see the real thing.

Several exhibitions are now running in the UK to coincide with the event. Peter Hingley, Librarian at the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), has produced this guide:


Special report
Special report
11 August
The Royal Cornwall Museum opened an exhibition called The Story of Astronomy in Cornwall on 10 July. Nobel Prize-winning astronomer Professor Tony Hewish, himself born in Fowey, attended the unveiling of exhibits. The show features various aspects of astronomy and eclipses, the discovery of Pulsars, and the work of other Cornish-born astronomers such as Edwin Dunkin and John Couch Adams.

The RAS Library has lent various rare books and archive material, notably the manuscript Autobiography of Edwin Dunkin, an edition of which is to be published by the Royal Institution of Cornwall during the run of the exhibition.

The exhibition is open from 10.00 to 17.00, Monday to Saturday, until 11 September, and the charge for admission to the museum is 2.50 (with concessions). For further information, please telephone the Museum (01872 272205 ).


The Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery in Candie Gardens, St Peter Port, has an exhibition called Eclipse 99, which was opened on 17th June by Dr Patrick Moore.

The exhibition covers both the history of astronomy and of eclipse observation and includes much modern information on the Sun, including interactive computer displays.

The show also includes a piece of Moon rock lent by Nasa, and outside the Gallery a coelostat projects a real-time image of the Sun when it is visible. (It usually is in Guernsey!).

The RAS Library has supplied various images for the exhibition and loaned a watercolour of an Eclipse in 1870 by the Guernsey-born artist P J Naftel. The exhibition also features the work of the pioneer astrophotographer Warren de la Rue, born in Guernsey in 1815.

The exhibition is open daily until 26 September. Admission to the museum costs 2.50 for adults, 1.25 for senior citizens. Children and students get in free. For further information, please telephone the Museum (01481 726518 ).


The City of Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery's exhibition The Dark Side of the Sun opened 8th May.

It covers a wide range subjects to do with the history of astronomy and of navigation, as well as 'just' eclipses.

A considerable number of significant books and artefacts, not normally on public display, have been lent from the RAS collection, including the first editions of Newton's Principia and Flamsteed's Atlas Coelestis. You will also find many interesting instruments including a sextant said to have been used by Captain Cook.

The exhibition has received support from the University of Plymouth, the European Space Agency (Esa), the Particle Physics and Astronomy research Council (PParc) and Orchid Technologies.

It runs until 23 October and the museum is open Tuesday to Saturday and on Bank Holiday Mondays, 10.00 to 17.00. Admission is free. For further information, please telephone the museum (01752 304774).

St Ives

The Tate Gallery, St. Ives, has mounted an exhibition entitled As Dark as Light, mainly of contemporary works of art by Yuko Shiraishi, Gia Edzveradze and Garry Fabian Miller.

BBC Southwest reports on the winning entries in its eclipse painting competition
There are also relevant works by Turner and Whistler. There is a small section of older material and items lent by the RAS, which includes diagrams and drawings of eclipses. There is one of Edmund Halley's eclipse maps and, notably, an album of original photographs of the 1860 eclipse expedition to Spain, probably collected by Warren de la Rue, which contains both the first concerted attempts at eclipse photography and what are probably the earliest photos of the participants in an eclipse expedition.

The Tate is also displaying a collection of children's art related to the eclipse.

The Tate is open Tuesdays to Sundays (and Mondays, including Bank Holiday Mondays, in July and August) from 10.30 to 17.30. The exhibition runs until 30 October.

There is a charge for admission. For further information, please telephone the gallery (01736 796226).


The Camborne School of Mines, part of the University of Exeter, is holding an exhibition called 'Rocks from Space' as part of its eclipse activities. A link to an e-poster advertising the event is available on the Web at

Entrance is free.


The Science Museum, South Kensington, has an exhibition called B> Eclipse99 which includes artefacts and images on the theme of eclipse observation over the centuries.

The Science Museum is open seven days a week, from 10.00 to 18.00. Adult admission is 6.50. Children get in free. For further information, call the museum (0171 7942 4455/4454).


The Liverpool Museum, William Brown St, Liverpool, has a small exhibition of photographs and other material, mainly of current eclipse information, but including some interesting ephemera relating to the 1927 total eclipse.

The Museum is open daily 10.00 (Sundays 12.00) to 17.00. The charge for admission is 3.50, but this gives admission to eight museums for a whole year!

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

Sci/Tech Contents

In this section

World's smallest transistor

Scientists join forces to study Arctic ozone

Mathematicians crack big puzzle

From Business
The growing threat of internet fraud

Who watches the pilots?

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer