Amateur astronomers look to the skies as rare solar eclipse occurs

Keen snapper Sarah Murtagh caught the solar eclipse over Tring on camera
Keen snapper Sarah Murtagh caught the solar eclipse over Tring on camera

Amateur astronomers donned their protective eyewear – or pointed their camera equipment – towards the best solar eclipse seen on our shores since 1999 this morning.

Experts predict the next eclipse of a similar scale won’t be seen again until 2026, but the skies over Dacorum were among parts of the country to get an impressive 85% coverage of the sun by the moon as it passed between it and Earth, obscuring parts of our planet from sunlight.

At Hemel Hempstead’s Pixies Hill School, pupils prepared to watch the celestial phenomenon with headteacher Martin Smith, who’s also a member of the Wycombe Astronomical Society.

Children made the most of the rare event with special solar sunglasses, and Mr Smith also arranged for the school to borrow a solar scope from the Society, to view the phenomenon close-up.
This event was visible to the greatest extent across north-west Europe, Scandinavia and the UK and to a lesser extent across northern Africa, and Asia, between 9am and 10am this morning.

Over Tring, keen snapper Sarah Murtagh managed to capture some striking shots of the eclipse at its fullest point in the area.

Meanwhile, Gazette photographer Dave Satchel caught the event overhead in Boxmoor and framed by the spire of St Mary’s Church in the Old Town, and Iain Nibbsy also took advantage of a break in the clouds to get a shot of it in the Boxmoor area.

From his garden in Gadebridge, Callum Welsh created some inventive images as the eclipse was finishing.

A total solar eclipse can only occur when Moon’s apparent diameter is larger than the Sun’s, obscuring all the direct sunlight. A route along the North Atlantic and the Faroe Islands were the best places to have seen it in its entirety.

Today’s eclipse coincides with the Vernal Equinox, which is the date when the days and nights are of equal length, and this is also a rare coincidence.

While the totality of the eclipse seen across Dacorum and the south-east was about 85%, it ranged over the rest of the UK to about 95-96% in the far north of Scotland.

Head teacher at Pixies Hill School, Hemel Hempstead, Martin Smith, and pupils preparing to view the partial eclipse

Head teacher at Pixies Hill School, Hemel Hempstead, Martin Smith, and pupils preparing to view the partial eclipse

Did you mark the rare occasion in a special way, or get any photos of the elusive event? We’d love to see them – email victoria.bull@jpress.co.uk if so.

Keen snapper Sarah Murtagh caught the solar eclipse over Tring on camera

Keen snapper Sarah Murtagh caught the solar eclipse over Tring on camera

Head teacher at Pixies Hill School, Hemel Hempstead, Martin Smith, and pupils preparing to view the partial eclipse

Head teacher at Pixies Hill School, Hemel Hempstead, Martin Smith, and pupils preparing to view the partial eclipse

The partial eclipse seen over Boxmoor at 9.45 am. Photo by Dave Satchel

The partial eclipse seen over Boxmoor at 9.45 am. Photo by Dave Satchel

The partial eclipse seen next to the spire of St.Mary's Church, Hemel Hempstead, at 10.am. Photo by Dave Satchel

The partial eclipse seen next to the spire of St.Mary's Church, Hemel Hempstead, at 10.am. Photo by Dave Satchel

Iain Nibbsy sent in this photo of the eclipse

Iain Nibbsy sent in this photo of the eclipse

Callum Welsh got these inventinve shots from his garden in Gadebridge during a break in the cloud just before the eclipse finished

Callum Welsh got these inventinve shots from his garden in Gadebridge during a break in the cloud just before the eclipse finished

Callum Welsh got these inventinve shots from his garden in Gadebridge during a break in the cloud just before the eclipse finished

Callum Welsh got these inventinve shots from his garden in Gadebridge during a break in the cloud just before the eclipse finished

'Tie-dye eclipse': Another atmospheric shot from Sarah Murtagh

'Tie-dye eclipse': Another atmospheric shot from Sarah Murtagh

David Newland's shots were taken in Woodhall Farm

David Newland's shots were taken in Woodhall Farm