The solar eclipse at Warminster

The solar eclipse at Warminster

In the last 500 years there have only been eight total solar eclipses that could be seen from the UK. The last one was in 1999, when thousands of people travelled to Devon and Cornwall to see it. After last week's eclipse, the UK will not see another until 2090.

This year the spring equinox, when the day and night are exactly the same length, coincided with a solar eclipse – the next time this will happen will be in 209 years on 20th March 2224. Staff and pupils at Warminster School wanted to celebrate this rare occurrence and the whole school gathered on Byne Paddock to witness the event.

Earlier in the morning the boarders, headed up by Mr Bonnell, set up fifty viewing stations with pinhole projectors and large screens to enable everyone to take part safely. Mrs Catherine Wilson and the Warminster School Astronomy Club were on hand to help adjust the projectors and many pupils and staff were able to view the eclipse, despite of the haze and patchy cloud cover.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes in front of the Sun. The shadow cast on the Earth seems to follow a path as the Earth turns. If this is not directly overhead, we see a partial eclipse. Typical phenomena included the sky becoming darker, colours fading and a drop in temperature. Last week's partial eclipse, with about 80% of the sun obscured, took place at about 9.30am. 

Mrs Wilson expressed her thanks to Science Technician Helen Brown who worked tirelessly to prepare the equipment for the entire school to use. Thanks must also go to Jon Edkins of David Wiltshire Photography, for his outstanding photographs and for recording this special event for us.

For more information about the Warminster School Astronomy Club, contact Mrs Wilson on [email protected]