On January 3rd, we had our first meeting of 2005 when our speaker was EAAS member Mr Paul Evans. His lecture was entitled "Eclipses" and was an educational and exciting talk as Paul displayed his eclipse photos and described his visit to Australia in 2002.
The meeting began with comet expert and EAAS member, Martin McKenna being called upon to describe how the comet has changed and developed over the past month. Martin is a new member to the society and has put in many hours of observing over December and has been able to see 2 gas tails and a dust tail rotate as the comet approaches Earth. Martin comes from Maghera and uses a 16inch Meade dobsonian and an 8inch f/6.3 LX90 for his observations.
After a brief introduction by John McConnell, EAAS chairman, Paul Evans took to the floor. Paul began his talk by explaining that he'd wanted to see the Total Eclipse on August 11th 1999 but ended up seeing just 97% of totality from Wimbledon Common as he was just too busy to go anywhere else!
He then decided that he'd go and see another eclipse - as it turned out, Ceduna in South Australia on December 4th 2002, but in the meantime he began to explore just how it was that he could guarantee seeing an eclipse three years away by sitting on the beach on the other side of the world and just waiting.
Paul explained how eclipses occurred, both Lunar and Solar, starting with the premise that the Moon goes around the Earth, and the pair of them go around the Sun, while the Moon appears roughly the same size as the Sun in the sky - almost!
After an explanation of the geometry involved in giving us Annular,
Total and Hybrid eclipses Paul told us how the 18 year 10 days 8 hours
Saros cycles arose bringing the same eclipse to different parts of the
Paul also showed us the paths of upcoming eclipses including the rare Hybrid eclipse in the Pacific this April, the Annular eclipse visible from Spain (and partial from the UK) this October, and the next Total eclipse visible from Turkey and Libya in March 2006.
Paul finished off the presentation with some snaps from the Ceduna eclipse of Dec 2002 including his impressive wide angle shot of the totality showing the Moon's shadow path together with some advice on what to see at a Total eclipse and how to go about seeing it and photographing it. Notice below how the shape of the shadow can be seen with brightness in the sky to the right and left of the Sun.
A lively question and answer session followed, with the speed of the totality of a solar eclipse :-)
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