Setting up before the eclipse

Members of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh setting up equipment outside the Scottish Parliament, prior to the start of the eclipse. (Photo: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament)

I wasn’t sure how the morning  of the eclipse would work out so I came dressed for the outdoors with my solar specs, bought on the internet. It was a great start with blue sky and sunshine, but just a bit cold – although that’s nothing unusual for astronomy! I was amazed at how the number of people grew so quickly that the Parliament staff had to organise a big queue for those who wanted to see through the telescopes that the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh members had brought and set up.

The sunshine gave way to broken light cloud but it still looked ok.  Setting up took quite a while and when viewing started there were hundreds of folk waiting. As each telescope became available, a hand would go up and the organisers would send the visitors off to have a look. Many people asked where specs could be bought but, of course, there was not a local supply so I found myself lending mine. People were really good about it, polite and careful and very excited. Some used my specs to take photos as a lasting reminder.

The eclipse through eclipse glasses

The eclipse, as viewed through eclipse glasses. (Photo: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament)

I felt really involved and there was a community feeling about it. The atmosphere was terrific. Folk were gasping and laughing, and when a thin film of cloud covered the sun, suddenly everybody could see it and there was a real “Ohhh” from the crowd. This cycle kept going until the eclipse ended. There was a worrying time when dark cloud came over and those with the telescopes could not track the sun because of the strong filters and had to wait to find it again when the thick cloud passed. However, most of the eclipse was visible one way and another and I was very glad that I was able to take part. Well done to all of us. I think we did a good job.

Dorothy Mackie

This is one of a series of personal accounts recorded by our members of their experience viewing the partial solar eclipse on the 20th of March 2015.