I’ve spent most of my lunchtimes this week desperately searching newsagents for the BBC Sky at Night magazine, hunting for the elusive copy with free solar viewing glasses. As today’s eclipse approached, first E-bay then Amazon’s stocks of the glasses ran dry. Only, I didn’t know this as I hadn’t checked. By the time I did, it was too late.
Having exhausted shops the length and breadth of Brighton, Hammersmith and around Victoria station I’d given up hope of ever finding them. Then, I found the magazine complete with it’s free gift in WHSmiths, in Rustinton, three minutes from my house.
You see, dear reader, the purpose of this wild goose chase was today’s partial eclipse of the sun.
I remember the last one in August 1999, I was 19 and had a trés cool summer job in the local library. I remember what an impact it had on me, feeling that definite sense of smallness that many others report. So I was, quite understandably, quite excited about this one.
But the bloody weather conspired against all of us along the south coast of England by blocking our view. Mother nature shat out her fluffy diarrhoea all over the sky, and all over my dreams.
Katie and I met up with Ellie and Mrs.M. by the big turd on Littlehampton sea-front at half eight this morning, hoping against hope that the sky would clear. Alas, it did not.
The skies did go a little dark, but nothing spectacular, and nothing like I remember; standing on the grassy knoll outside Bloxwich public library all those years ago.
Katie attempted to cheer me up by letting me buy her a coffee at the local pub. While we sat, sipping our hot beverage of choice, we tried not to get too jealous at the brilliant pictures being posted by friends and family up in the Midlands, where the skies had been gloriously clear.
Next chance to see a decent eclipse is August 12, 2026. Oh well, at least I already have the glasses.