HMNAO Eclipse Portal

About these pages...

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.

About the author...

Steve Bell observing the 2004 June 8 transit
of Venus at RAL

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. The cover of The RGO Guide to the 1999 Total Eclipse of the Sun As a 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

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Sine sole sileo
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