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Eclipse chasers are unbeaten by clouds

Paul Sutherland, Feature writer
Mar 20, 2015, 17:24 UTC

Sen—Europe’s eagerly awaited solar eclipse occurred this morning, but the event brought mixed fortunes to the millions of people waiting to view the natural wonder.

While there was extensive cloud cover over much of the continent, it was beautifully clear for some regions of Europe.

And views of totality, which were possible only from a track that largely crossed the North Atlantic, were had by many eclipse chasers who had made the special trip.

The central line of totality only crossed two small areas of land—the Faroe Islands between Scotland and Iceland, and Svalbard, between Norway and the North Pole.

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A picturesque view of the "smiling Sun" taken from a hill close to Bideford, Devon, by Damian Peach. He said: "Ideal weather from start to finish—a lovely sight!" Image credit: Sen/D. Peach

Svalbard enjoyed beautifully clear skies for the thousands of visitors who swelled the archipeleago’s small population. It was very cloudy over the Faroes, but the eclipse was seen in breaks in the cloud from the islands and from cruise ships.

Away from the central track, the biggest partial phases were visible from Iceland and from Scotland. While much of the west of Scotland was under cloud, it was clear in many areas to the east.

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ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst observing the eclipse with children in Berlin. Image credit: ESA

It was a similar picture across the rest of the UK, most of which saw at least 85 per cent of the Sun blotted out by the Moon. London and the SouthEast were under heavy cloud that refused to budge. In other parts it was either beautifully clear or the eclipse could be viewed through thin cloud or in gaps between clouds.

For those who were clouded out, the BBC’s Stargazing Live programme brought shots of the event from around the country and from a plane above the clouds along the central eclipse track.

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Multiple images of the maximum partial phase of the eclipse are projected by a kitchen colander in Lincoln, UK. Image credit: Ben Gilliland

Observers had mixed fortunes across the rest of Europe too. One lucky group of schoolchildren in Berlin were joined by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst as they viewed the spectacle through their special eclipse glasses.

The rest of the world was able to join in too, thanks to live streaming of the eclipse over the web by Slooh. And the eclipse was pictured from space too. ISS astronauts saw a rising Sun part-covered by the Moon, and ESA’s Sun-watching Proba-2 used its SWAP imager to capture the Moon passing twice in front of the Sun in extreme ultraviolet light, revealing its outr atmosphere, or corona.

Proba-2 images the eclipse in extreme ultraviolet light. Credit: ESA