Partial solar eclipse viewing
Astronomers from the University of Glasgow are offering local people, staff and students the chance to safely observe the partial solar eclipse on Friday 20 March.
Experts from the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy will explain the process behind the eclipse, which at its maximum will see the moon cover 94% of the sun, and offer visitors the opportunity to observe the event through telescopes if the weather permits.
The event will run between 8:30am and 10:30am at the University’s Fraser Building and the south front entrance to the main campus building, overlooking the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The maximum eclipse will occur at 9:34am.
Dr Iain Hannah of the University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy, who organised the event, said: “Partial solar eclipses are rare events, and we’re hoping the Glasgow weather will allow us the opportunity to get a good view of the moon making its way across the sun.
“The sun is a very powerful source of light. Looking at it with your naked eyes or through unfiltered telescopes or binoculars can cause damage to your sight, even when it’s covered by the moon. This event is a great way to observe the eclipse without putting yourself at risk as well as an opportunity to learn more about our solar system.”
Researchers from the School of Physics and Astronomy are organising other events to coincide with the eclipse. Dr Giles Hammond will be in Shetland, where the eclipse will cover 97% of the sun’s surface, more than anywhere else in the UK. In partnership with Shetland Geopark and the Shetland Astronomical society, the event will be used as a backdrop to highlight sustainability, energy from the environment and light-based technologies which are beneficial to third world development and education.
The Shetland event is part of the International Year of Light, which highlights the importance of light and optical technologies. The event will highlight the use of solar lanterns. SolarAid is a UK charity which distributes solar lanterns in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, and enables families an additional two hours of light for children to study, for parents to work, or just to spend time together in safety and in light. One of the key aims of the International Year of Light is to champion the availability of solar lighting in rural communities in the developing world.
Professor Martin Hendry, Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy, will be taking part in an event for the BBC’s Stargazing Live programme in Leicester. He will be taking the stage with film critic James King and Paul Franklin, visual effects supervisor for films including Interstellar, to discuss science fact and science fiction in films.
PhD student Richard Middlemiss will also be in the Faroe Islands, one of only two places in the world which will experience total eclipse, to repeat an experiment first carried out by Arthur Eddington in 1919. By taking a picture of the stars behind the Sun, Eddington was able to see the deflection of the light beams from these stars, caused by the Sun's gravitational distortion of space-time, which verified experimentally Einstein’s theory of relativity. Richard’s experiment will use a digital camera for the process for the very first time.
For more information on the event at the University, visit the Astronomy & Astrophysics Group.
First published: 16 March 2015