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Last Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Cloudy skies dash eclipse hopes
Spaceguard UK, Knighton, Powys
The centre has specialist equipment for safe sky-watching
Cloudy skies have dashed attempts by skywatchers in mid Wales to catch a glimpse of the partial eclipse of the sun.

About 30 met up at the Spaceguard UK Centre near Knighton, Powys, for the special event on Monday morning.

They set up seven telescopes, but it was all in vain thanks to the British weather.

Spaceguard director Jay Tate was philosophical and said it was something astronomers "just have to deal with".

Mr Tate said: "It was absolutely rubbish. We had six or seven telescopes, but we didn't see a thing because of the cloud.

"That's the way it goes and cloud is one of the things astronomers just have to deal with."

It was absolutely rubbish
Jay Tate, Spaceguard UK Centre

Mr Tate added up to 30 interested members of the public, including the Marches Astronomy Group, met at the centre.

"Partial eclipses of the sun are not that uncommon and we get them every few years," explained Mr Tate.

"We get a full eclipse every few hundred years, the last one was in August 1999."

Visitors to the observatory started viewing the progress of the eclipse from about 0830 BST as the Moon's shadow partly obscured the Sun.

Cloudy skies also prevented observers at Techniquest in Cardiff Bay - who should have seen a 60% eclipse - from viewing the eclipse.

The eclipse - as seen in the planetarium in Madrid
People watched the eclipse more successfully from other parts of Europe

Spaceguard UK is a campaigning organisation, and has spent several years lobbying the government to take more seriously the threat of asteroid impacts on Earth.

Monday's phenomenon was experienced in differing degrees in much of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East in an annular eclipse.

Experts said the Moon would sweep across the face of the Sun for a dazzling display of celestial mechanics.

This is the fourth annular eclipse of the 21st century. The next total solar eclipse is on 29 March, 2006, but will not be seen in Europe.


SEE ALSO:
Spaceguard UK opens observatory
28 Sep 01 |  Science/Nature
Antarctic witnesses total eclipse
24 Nov 03 |  Science/Nature
Skywatchers see 'ring of fire'
31 May 03 |  Science/Nature


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