These pages were generated using automated software based on the codes used in The Astronomical Almanac. Consequently, the information on this site uses the same precepts, methods, techniques and assumptions as The Astronomical Almanac. However, as the author of the site, I take full responsibility for the data presented here. Every effort has been made to ensure the data are as accurate as possible. The graphics, animations and web page generation use code written by the author.
At the bottom of each page of this web site you will find the latin phrase Sine sole sileo. Found on sundials, particularly from the Roman period, these words are appropriate for this web site — Without the Sun I am silent.
I started my eclipse watching in earnest in February 1998 in the
Caribbean. From a cricket pitch in St. Philips overlooking Willoughby Bay on the
south-east corner of Antigua, my colleagues and I saw two and three quarter
minutes of totality. The backdrop of the smoldering Soufrière Hills
volcano on Montserrat and the radio playing Handel's Messiah were unforgettable.
Scientific Editor with HM Nautical Almanac Office, I wrote a booklet called
The RGO Guide to the 1999 Total Eclipse of the Sun. Sadly, this was one
of the last publications produced by the Royal Greenwich Observatory before its
closure in 1998. The following year, I went to St. Mawes in Cornwall to see a
British total eclipse of the Sun. Unfortunately, the weather was cloudy and I
saw only a few seconds of the eclipse shortly after the end of totality.
However, just over two minutes of darkness in the middle of the day and
observing thousands of camera flashes going off at Pendennis Castle in Falmouth
were still memorable events. By way of compensation, the African Solstice
Eclipse of 2001 was a wonderful experience. Based at Fringilla Farm, north of
Lusaka in Zambia, we were treated to three and half minutes of totality and the
bonus of seeing shadow bands for the first time. More recent eclipse experiences
include a wonderful total eclipse Turkey in March, 2006 and totality being
washed out in Shanghai, China in July, 2009. Other UK eclipses include a failed
attempt to see the annular eclipse of the Sun of May, 2003 from Tain in the
Scottish Highlands and a more successful deep partial eclipse from North
Somerset in March, 2015.
A total eclipse of the Sun has always inspired people to capture the spectacle in words. Perhaps the most colourful description of a total eclipse of the Sun I have come across was made by an unnamed Australian aboriginal observer who said "Kerosene lamp belong Jesus gone bugger up".
I hope you find this site useful and that it encourages you to go out and see some of the upcoming eclipses for yourself. Good luck!
Steve Bell, HMNAO