Friday’s partial solar eclipse

Today we’ve witnessed a pretty awesome event that we won’t see again in the UK for a very long time. Here’s my best photo of it. The high cloud cover actually came in pretty handy, as it dimmed the brightness of the sun, making it easier to photograph and look at the eclipse.


The cloud cleared not long after the peak of the eclipse, meaning it’s now too bright to look at directly, so that was good timing!

I can’t help reflecting on how much has changed since the last time the UK witnessed such an event, and wondering how much will change in the time between now and the next one; the next partial solar eclipse on a similar scale to today’s will be in 2026, but the next total solar eclipse won’t be until the 23rd of September 2090. If I live to be 104, I might be around to see it, but it’s fairly unlikely! We will probably try to travel and see a total eclipse abroad somewhere though.

I remember the total solar eclipse of 11 August 1999. Conditions were similar then – cloudy! – but I remember the country being plunged into darkness to a much greater extent than it was today. I was 13 and I’m pretty sure I photographed it using one of those cheap cameras from Boots, where you had a roll of film and you had to wind it to take the next shot. Obviously no zoom, so my photos came back from the pharmacy looking distinctly lacklustre!

One becomes very aware of the passage of time when considering just how much has happened in the intervening period. Since the last eclipse, I’ve taken GCSEs, A-levels, gone to university, got a degree, travelled to lots of different countries (I hadn’t even been abroad at the last eclipse), learned to drive, set up several businesses, met the love of my life, got engaged, got a Pilot’s Licence – my 13-year-old self would never have dreamt that all that would happen to me!

It also seems amazing how much technology has advanced since then. Everyone has smartphones with cameras now – a far cry from the basic mobile phones that were around back then – and there’s Facebook and Twitter to share photos on immediately. No waiting days for photos to be developed. The UK – indeed the world – seems a very different place to how it was then. It was pre-9/11, pre-recession, and though I was a lot younger then, things didn’t seem quite so doom and gloom as they are now. I wonder what the world will be like the next time we have a total solar eclipse in the UK?

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