The history of
of the Subject
Falls in Wales
HISTORICAL ECLIPSES IN WALES:
|      ||First "dint" of the sun:||5.20 a.m.|
|Sun clear again:||7.15 a.m.|
|Time of totality:||6.24 a.m.|
A Bangor authority states that the road in the neighbourhood of the rustic bridge on the mountain will provide the best viewpoint in this neighbourhood. From here a clear and unobstructed view will be obtainable over the valley towards Penmaen head. The sun will rise just by the Great Orme, which means that by the time of totality those who are looking towards Penmaen head should obtain a good view.
There are also points in Upper Bangor from which sightseers may observe the phenomenon, but here there is a risk of a haze hanging over the town which would not, of course, improve matters.
The authorities of the University College of North Wales have erected an observatory for the eclipse. It is fixed in the College playing field, off Friddoedd-road [sic.], Upper Bangor, and from here observations will be made and two photographs taken. The revolving hut, together with the telescope, which is six feet long, was presented some time ago to the College, but hitherto it has been housed in the science department in Deiniol-road.
Millions of people gathered within the thirty-mile belt between Criccieth and Hartlepool on Wednesday morning in order to see the total eclipse of the sun. For the most part, however, rain and cloudy skies spoiled the spectacle, and, generally speaking, apart from the sudden darkness at the moment of totality there was little to be observed.
At Giggleswick, in the north of England, however, the eclipse provided a magnificent, never-to-be-forgotten spectacle. A press correspondent with the Astronomer Royal describes the scene as follows :-
"There was a vague feeling of terror. Animals whined, sheep stopped nibbling and bleated pitifully. We were enveloped in a greyish brown air; the chill gripped us. Then the great shadow sped across like a monster blotting out the world. Like magic the corona burst forth, gold and silvery rays shooting out as from some invisible crucible or the offshoots of a volcanic crater. The world appeared to be on fire. Then a wonderful orange glow as the sun reappeared."
At Southport, where there were 100,000 visitors, the clouds cleared a few minutes before totality, showing the corona. The flashing shadow, too, was a splendid sight - "as though everything cheerful was being snatched out of life forever."
A crowd of 150,000 assembled at Blackpool, but a poor view was obtained, whilst those who climbed Snowdon saw nothing at all.
Bangor was among the places which had the misfortune to be deprived by clouds from being able to see the eclipse. It was raining heavily long before the period of totality, but this did not deter large crowds wending their way to points from which they thought they could obtain a view of the spectacle. All night through a steady stream of cars ran through the city in the direction of Bethesda for Capel Curig and for Colwyn Bay.
The golf course appeared to be the favourite rendezvous in Bangor, though there were large crowds on the pier, along the foreshore at Hirael, at Ffriddoedd, the Old Camp field and the mountain. A few had perched themselves in the tower of the University College of North Wales.
All hopes of seeing the spectacle dissipated as the clouds thickened. The crowds whiled away the time by singing, but when the period of totality arrived there was an impressive silence. In some places where the sun had been shining in all its majesty the transformation from day to night was complete, but owing to the heavy clouds this was not so marked in Bangor, although the effects were very eerie. Sweeping pall deprived the countryside of its verdant colour. Viewed from the golf course the hills of Snowdonia, so sharply defined a few seconds before, became giant silhouettes. A weird colouring o'erspread land and sea. It seemed the light of neither moon nor sun - almost ghostly.
Yesterday morning, at the same hour that the eclipse occurred the previous day, the sun shone in all its radiance ! In the afternoon, however, it became so dark that electric light had to be turned on in the shops and offices, but the sun again made its appearance towards the evening.
Strange as it may seem a party of Bangorians, about 100 strong, had a splendid view of the eclipse. They were trippers en route to London in a special train, and as they approached Rugeley the train was stopped and the party were informed that they could view the eclipse. Some ingenious persons "smoked" the windows of the carriages with matches and saw the phenomenon without stepping from the train, which remained stationary for a quarter of an hour.
Though the sky was decidedly uninviting in the direction of sunrise the West End and Penchwintan folk were not in the least pessimistic (writes a correspondent), and made their way hopefully to Ffriddoedd and Bangor mountain. Even the relentless rain failed to send them back to their forsaken beds.
When the Ffriddoedd contingent met the Mountain lot they smiled mysteriously - as much to say, "You won't see anything to brag about. Ours is the privileged spot for the eclipse." On the other hand, the Mountaineers smiled still more mysteriously and stretched themselves to their full height as they gazed in the direction of their elevated point of vantage. I was one of the gallant Mountaineers, and they made the climb as if the eclipse was occurring to them and no one else.
"Won't it be grand from the very top ?" chuckled one of them.
"Scrumptious," observed another.
"Great!" exclaimed a man of science who wouldn't mind challenging the towering crags of Snowdon that morning.
When we reached what we thought was the best place on the Mountain we instantly turned our gaze in the direction of Great Orme and said to ourselves, "Now for something that will pay us handsomely for leaving those delicious beds at such an unearthly hour". After an hour of drizzle, cold winds, frowning clouds, wet feet, pinched faces, and other miseries we saw the fleeting darkness at totality, and were glad when it was light enough for us to rush home as fast as our legs could carry us to sip hot coffee and wished the eclipse anywhere but in North Wales.
Three things were impressed on my mind as a result of the whole affair. I realised for the first time that the sun rises between the Great and Little Orme and not behind Tryfan as I had always thought.
I thought ruefully of the last shilling I had spent on the smoked glass that was damp and cold in one of my pockets.
Finally, I consoled myself with the fact that no power on earth would persuade me to leave my bed - wherever it would be - to see the eclipse in 1999.
Great preparations had been made for the eclipse during the last two months by the U.C. of N.W., under the direction of Dr. Edwin Owen, Professor of Physics. An observatory had been erected at Ffriddoedd with a 6" refractor telescope, a gift to the college. Attached to it was a spectrograph to take the flash spectrum which appears two to three seconds at the beginning and towards the end of totality. There were also two cameras three feet long to take a picture of the corona. Time signals were received on a special wireless apparatus, and signals were also used to check the chronometer, which was standardised previously with the broadcasted time signals.
Outside the hut were mounted two cameras to take photographs of the different phases of the eclipse.
"The conditions" said Dr Edwin Owen to a "North Wales Chronicle" reporter "however, prevented any pictures being taken or the telescope being used. Temperature readings were, however, taken in the open. Temperature variations were recorded of one and a half degree centigrade, which was rather less than was anticipated, due probably to the fact that there was such a thick layer of cloud at the time of totality. The darkness was not so marked as it would have been had there been no cloud. We were able to carry out physical measurements at the college. These were done by Mr H. T. Jones. They deal with the potential gradient of the atmosphere before, during and after totality, but so far the results have not been worked out. Although the eclipse was disappointing in this district we greatly enjoyed the preparatory work, and I wish to thank those who assisted us."
The party, in addition to Dr. Edwin Owen consisted of Dr. S. Russ, Professor of Physics at U.C.L., Mr. P.A. Mainstone, Mr. H.T. Jones, Mr. H. Curnow, Mr. D. Davies, Mr. T.E. Williams, and Mr. Glyn ap Silyn Roberts. Mr. W.E. Williams who assisted in the preparations, was unable to attend on Wednesday owing to the death of his mother.
An audience exceeding four hundred assembled in the Powis Hall of the University College of North Wales on Tuesday evening to hear an interesting lecture by Professor W.E.H. Berwick Sc.D. on eclipses of the sun and moon, etc. etc. etc.
It is now known only too well, the sun itself was shrouded, but from 5.20 to 6.20 there was a persistent thin belt of cloud in that region of the sky through which a pale reddish or orange light was to be seen. As the hour of partial eclipse wore on, this belt grew slowly paler, while the day grew slowly darker, though hardly more so than I have seen during two partial eclipses. Just before 6.23 we moved to Llysfaen ridge, whence we could command a view of some twelve miles of country to the south-west. Then, so rapidly as to be nearly sudden, the orange light in the east vanished, and at the same moment an immense "darkness" appeared, which seemed to the present writer to be of a bluish tint, and to fill the air.
It "came at" us from the south-west. One held one's breath; one almost expected some fearful sound, but there was dead silence. It was, of course, the shadow of the moon. The writer has had some forty years of life in the open air, but this was totally unlike any previous experience, and can never be forgotten.
Information on this website about other historic observations of eclipses from Wales:
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