On Friday 20th March 2015, the UK awoke to a rarely seen event. At 8:23am, precisely, the moon began to move in front of the sun.

For the Bristol Astronomical Society, the excitement of the day started more than an hour and a half before this though.

At 7am, members of the society arrived at Castle Park, in the centre of Bristol, to set up their array of telescopes and projection boxes. In fact it was a whole week earlier that committee members had investigated areas of Bristol where the eclipse could best be seen and settled on the paved site next to St Peter’s Church.

An assortment of devices was set up between 7am and 8:15am.

There were three Coronado PSTs, with hydrogen alpha filters, two telescopes with white-light glass filters, one projection box, one pair of binoculars projecting the sun onto black card, at least two portable tubes with a pin-hole in one end, a viewing area at the other, and several dozen colanders.

The Sky at Night Magazine arrived early to set up a stand. They came armed with several hundred solar glasses to sell on the day.

The third and final co-organiser of the observing event were At-Bristol, who arrived in good time with another Coronado PST and several helpers keen to explain to passers by what was happening.

Despite a cloudy and somewhat nerve-wracking start, the skies soon cleared to allow the crowds to watch the moon slowly eclipse 85% of the sun.

Members of the public brought along solar glasses, colanders and some stunning home-made pinhole projectors.

 

 

The atmosphere built up slowly over the course of the eclipse, with the event taking on the air of a carnival as the sunlight dimmed and the point of maximum eclipse edged closer.

 

 

 

As the maximum approached, the bright morning took on a dusky, almost eerie feel. Strange shadows were cast, that took on a bluish hue. At maximum no-one could take their eyes off the spectacular show the sun and moon were performing, just for us. Every face was pointed up, the solar glasses glinting in the subdued light.