|Astronomy on the cheap.|
Between 8.30 and 10.30 today the moon passed before the sun to produce a near-total solar eclipse. It was a cloudless morning here in the English Midlands, with the sun too bright to look at. Gradually the temperature dropped and the sky darkened. Shadows lengthened and colours veered towards the red end of the spectrum. At around 9.30 — the climax of the eclipse — it became very still and the atmosphere quite eerie. Birds perched in the trees, perhaps fooled into thinking that night was approaching. Despite the oppressive moon shadow, it still remained fairly light. It had been impossible to buy any special safety glasses, so we tried the colander viewing technique. I'm not sure this was completely successful, but at least our retinas stayed intact. As the sun strengthened and the moon stole away, the birds started singing again — including a robin on our car roof.
It's also the spring equinox, so the hours of light and dark are equal. And there's a perigee new moon, or supermoon, which occurs when a new moon coincides orbitally with its nearest point to earth. This conjunction of spring equinox, supermoon and solar eclipse is most unusual, and I feel pleased to have witnessed such a rare cosmic event.