A Solar Eclipse is an extremely rare phenomenon, in which the Sun is either partially or completely covered/obscured by the Moon. Eclipses have been observed from Earth for thousands of years, with many cultures circulating superstitions around the natural occurrence. Since there will never be a Solar Eclipse that covers as much of the Sun in the Northern Hemisphere in my lifetime, I wanted to write a detailed feature about my experience, what a solar eclipse is, how to observe it safely and also some media I captured while viewing the eclipse.
Once In A Lifetime…
As I said in my introduction above, an Eclipse on this scale will not be happening again in the UK during my lifetime – the next total Solar Eclipse is forecast for 2090 in the UK. As I live in the Midlands, I saw around 90% totality as the Moon covered only most of the Sun from where I was viewing the Eclipse. However, further North, up into the Faroe Islands, it was reported that up to 98% totality was visible for a short time, with 100% totality visible only on Svalbard.
According to NASA, a solar eclipse can occur up to five times a year, however, this of course depends on where you are in the world, and relies on the fact that a solar eclipse can only occur during a Full Moon. Over the course of the last 500 years, there have been just eight total solar eclipses that were visible from the UK. The last of which took place in 1999 and thousands travelled south to Cornwall and Devon in order to view it.
There’s nothing like viewing a Solar Eclipse first hand, however, it’s important to remember never to look at the Sun directly, even if 90% of it is covered by the Moon, the rays from the Sun can still do irreparable damage to the sensitive mechanisms in the human eye.
Even though the Solar Eclipse was broadcast through television network coverage and online, millions ventured into the great outdoors to view the Eclipse for themselves. However, remembering suitable equipment with which to see the Eclipse effectively but also safely, is key to viewing this rare event.
How To View a Solar Eclipse
A whole range of devices and simple tools can be used to safely view and capture a Solar Eclipse. Something as simple as a colander or sieve can be looked through in order to minimize the glare from the Sun. Others may prefer to create a basic pinhole camera using a piece of paper or a box such a shoe box with a small hole in order to funnel the suns light into a small space and reflect it onto paper. This allows the viewer the see the reflection of the Sun as it is covered by the Moon.
As you can see above, safety comes first when capturing or viewing a Solar Eclipse, however, with the right equipment/tools for the job, it’s easy to view a Solar Eclipse and keep your eyes safe at the same time.
My Experience of the Solar Eclipse March 2015
For the Solar Eclipse I travelled with friends to the open areas of the Peak District which are just North of Sheffield where I am usually based. We decided that being away from man made light and tall buildings/trees and out on the moorlands would be more effective that trying to view and capture the Eclipse in the City.
We knew that capturing the Eclipse with our cameras could be problematic, even with the correct filters etc on our cameras, however, we found that with the cloud cover we had on the day, we could safely use sunglasses to glimpse the event and use the cameras Live View feature to camera the Suns position without having to focus manually and using the view finder.
Below is a vlog post I captured during the Eclipse, I hope you enjoy the video and my image from the event featured at the start of this post, apologies for the lateness of this post since it’s been a month since the Eclipse but I didn’t want to rush the writing and creation of this post and the media attached!