2015 eclipse in Glasgow – sadly even duller than 1999
Thanks to the (very) partial eclipse we experienced in Glasgow back in August of 1999, I had all the necessary filters and glasses to view such an event ready to hand, almost. The advance to dSLRs meant that the new ‘digital’ lenses I have all take a slightly smaller diameter filter than the old ‘film’ versions I had then, but a lucky coincidence meant that by merely reversing the old filter its ring slipped snugly over the end of the new lens, and a wrap of black tape sealed it securely in place.
With the kit ready, all that was needed was weather – aka clear sky. I hadn’t expected anything other than cloud, and was not disappointed.
The only consistent viewing experience I had was that of the Sun coming out whenever I went indoors.
The only sighting I had of the eclipse was an approximate 50% coverage of the Sun by the Moon some time after 9 am, while checking the camera filter. There was a brief break in the cloud, but this was too sudden for me even to grab a shot (camera not on tripod, and exposure not set anyway).
After that, we had constant cloud cover, they sky got greyer, the clouds got lower, and just after 9:30 am we even had some rain.
Other than the falling light level, we had no other evidence of the eclipse. Some cars seen in the street below were driving with headlights on, but none of my automatic lighting came on, so it didn’t really get that dark.
Ah well, at least I don’t have to worry about the next UK total eclipse, due in 2090.
Still there will be partials in 2018 (August), 2021 (June), 2022, and 2026. Two of those in months that might even have clear skies (like August 1999).
We were blessed with a surprise burst of brightness just after 10:30 am, and caught this view of the trailing part of the eclipse:
So, not a complete loss, although the clear spell was so brief that the two images above were all I managed to catch.
One of the downsides of using the proper filters is that things are completely black in the viewfinder, other than the Sun’s disc. Exposure has to be a best estimate (like a low-light or night shot) and the same is true of focus, since you have nothing to see (and autofocus is obviously not an option). At least the last eclipse taught me that setting the focus to Infinity was a mistake, and a bad assumption to make.
The Sun may be 93 million miles away, but that is far from infinity, and proper focus still has to be set manually. Fortunately, there was just enough time to get it more or less right, and not end up with little more than a grainy blur.