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Partial eclipse, meteorites and northern lights enthral a nation

Spot on: this photograph of the Sun taken during the eclipse clearly shows a sunspot (Courtesy: David Bloomfield)

Spot on: this photograph of the Sun taken during today’s eclipse clearly shows a sunspot. (Courtesy: David Bloomfield)

By Hamish Johnston

Earlier today millions of people in north-western Europe had the opportunity to see a partial eclipse of the Sun – or a total eclipse for the lucky few in northern Norway and the Faroe Islands.  Although it was a bit hazy here in Bristol, we were treated to spectacular views of the Moon covering 87% of the Sun. We have put up a Flickr album of images taken by colleagues here at IOP Publishing including the amazing photo above. It was taken by David Bloomfield and clearly shows a sunspot in the upper-left portion of the Sun.

Elsewhere, Ali Boyle of the Science Museum in London has put together a nice collection of eclipse-related images from the museum’s vaults. These include a photograph of the equipment used in 1919 by Arthur Eddington to confirm Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity by measuring the gravitational bending of light during an eclipse. You can also see a very cheesy poster promoting the 1999 total eclipse in Cornwall that show a pasty blocking the Sun over St Michael’s Mount.

Staying on the theme of photographing the sky, on Sunday tour guide John Alasdair Macdonald captured a fantastic image of a meteor streaking across Loch Ness. He told the BBC “It was a beautiful, clear night and I got some nice pictures but capturing the meteor was a fluke. I will never take a picture like that again.” Further south in England, a meteor was mistaken for a distress flare sparking a maritime search off the coast of Cumbria.

And to top off a thrilling week for sky-gazers in the UK, there have been fantastic displays of the northern lights up and down the country. Feel free to ooh and aah at this collection of stunning images collated by the BBC. My favourite is the aurora floating over Dunluce Castle in County Antrim.

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