Tomorrow morning we’ll be treated to the rare sight of a near-total solar eclipse. I hope so at least; the weather forecast is looking a bit dicey at the moment. Still, I plan to be outside between 8 and 10 am to catch a glimpse of the Moon sliding across the face of the Sun. It’s a spectacular sight.
The BBC Stargazing Live extravaganza has this year been timed to coincide with the eclipse, so every evening for the next few days you can watch Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain (and some of my Oxford colleagues too!) on BBC2. Lots of events will be taking place all over the country as well so check out the events listing to see what’s on where you are.
The Oxford astrophysicists will be setting up shop, and some solar telescopes, outside the Said Business School near the railway station from 08:00. If you’re in the area, come and hang out with us. There will be live coverage of the event throughout the morning on BBC Oxford radio with one of my fellow postdocs, Jo Barstow, in the studio as expert.
It’s been a bit sad to hear how many schools will not be taking their students outside to watch the eclipse because of safety fears. It’s true, looking at the Sun directly can seriously damage your eyesight, and maybe at some ages kids can’t quite grasp how serious that is. Still, we teach kids about traffic safety and how not to hurt themselves on playgrounds; I’d hope that the danger of looking directly into the Sun is something we can reasonably convey. Eclipses really are very spectacular, and the opportunity to see a near-total (or total) eclipse doesn’t come along very often in a lifetime.
There are lots of safe ways to see the solar eclipse, some of which are fun and creative, like making your own pinhole camera to project the disk of the Sun. Or you can just use a colander!
Fingers crossed for some breaks in the clouds tomorrow morning. Enjoy and be safe!