Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Leicester astronomer captures partial solar eclipse
By Phil Evans
Astronomer at University of Leicester

Pictures taken by Phil Evans from University of Leicester
"You should never look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse" - Phil Evans

Professionally, I work on a space telescope called Swift.

Being in space has various advantages.

For example, Swift is unaffected by the thing which stopped me using my first telescope until six weeks after I bought it, the thing which has prevented me from seeing a meteor shower (despite 02:00 alarm calls), the thing which has washed out all but one of the lunar eclipses I've witnessed.

This is a thing well known to every Brit - clouds.

Still, a solar eclipse: not something that happens on your doorstep every year, and a chance to see nature serving up one of its wonders.

Picture taken by Phil Evans from University of Leicester
In a fantastic break with tradition, the sun rose in one of the gaps in the clouds
Phil Evans, astronomer

Definitely worth a try, even if clouds are bound to ruin it.

At 08:00 GMT with three colleagues (Klaas Wiersema, Rhaana Starling and Kim Page) I went to the conveniently high Senior Common Room at the University of Leicester (where I work), and looked East.

As usual, there were clouds. But these ones had gaps in them.

I had brought my camera with me just in case, and in a fantastic break with tradition, the sun rose in one of the gaps in the clouds.

A crescent sun: an awesome sight. It's not hard to see why the ancients, seeing the source of their heat and light dimmed, took it as a portent.

The viewfinder of my camera proved quite a good tool to view the eclipse, the sun being low and weak, and 108 photos later, after flirting with the clouds and using them to accentuate its dance in the morning sky, the sun finally disappeared from view, and it started to snow.

Looking down I could see people walking to work. The sun is too bright to look at, so they didn't. They missed out.


Stargazing Live in Leicestershire
17 Dec 10 |  Things to do
In pictures: Lunar eclipse over Leicester
21 Dec 10 |  Nature & Outdoors
In pictures: Views of Saturn's aurora
27 Sep 10 |  Nature & Outdoors


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific