5th AUGUST, 1999

Whats’ the score on the Dark? Cork 97. Dublin 91. Wow!!

So we beat the Dubs again but at what you might ask. The answer is Cork will get 97% of the Total Eclipse on Wed next, while Dublin will only get 91%. Northern Europe and Southern Spain will get 60% North Africa and the Artic Circle 40%. So we are right in the middle of it. A Total Solar Eclipse is a very rare occurrence, in fact the next eclipse is not until 23 Sept., 2090. So I do not think that many of us will be around to see it, so we should make a special effort to observe and watch what happens. It will be something to tell your grandchildren, or maybe your grandchildren will be able to tell their children, all about it.
A Total Eclipse is when the Moon comes directly in front of the Sun blocking out the sunlight 100%. Just by a fluke of nature the Moon is exactly the same size in the sky as the Sun, even though the Sun is 400 times bigger. It is also 400 times farther away. If this balance was not as it is we would not get an eclipse. With the Moon directly in front of the Sun a shadow of total darkness is cast on the Earth about 32 miles wide.
So unfortunately we are just a couple of miles too far North of this track to get 100% darkness, but we will get 97%. Lots of interesting things will happen; we will see stars in the sky that otherwise we would not be to see because of sunlight. Also for keen observers four planets will become visible, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter, and in that order, and they will be in a vertical straight line with the covered Sun.
The first sight of the Eclipse will be at 9.56am. on the 11th August. We will see a slight portion to go missing from the Sun. This will slowly grow until at about 11.05 we will see as much as we are going to see of the Eclipse, and then slowly the opposite will happen until at about 12.20 the Sun will be back to normal.
The Eclipse will affect animals in so far as they will assume that it is night time, and birds will go home to roost. WARNING looking at the sun, even when partially obscured can cause eye damage and even blindness. Medical Officer’s advise that the only safe method to observe its changing outline is by pinhole or mirror projection, or on television.
To make a pinhole camera take two pieces of stiff cardboard, and make a small pinhole in one. Hold it above the other, positioning the cards until the sun’s image is projected on the bottom card. The image on the card is now safe to view.
Finally, on the next day August 12th, we will have the Meteor Show after dark. Starting at 11.00pm. At it’s peak we can expect a 100 meteors an hour. And what you will see is a shower of what looks like falling stars. All falling in the same direction. Look for what looks like a big “W” in the sky. You can keep your eyes on it, as you will not need eye protection for this.

P.S. For both events pray for a clear sky and enjoy the show.

Eugene Furlong


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