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1:22pm on Friday, 20th March, 2015:



It's a bright, sunny day. The sky is blue and there's barely a cloud in sight.

Well, it is now. Sadly, at 9:40 this morning when we were supposed to be seeing a partial eclipse of the sun, there were only clouds, clouds, clouds. They were dark, and did get lighter, but if I hadn't know there was an eclipse I wouldn't have known there was an eclipse. It just seemed to be a regular day with thick cloud and a cold wind.

The BBC footage was dreadful. The period of totality was shown as a shaky picture from an aircraft flying in the zone of totality. They had a ground crew in the Faroes, but didn't cut to them once during the period. Immediately afterwards, we were treated to a reported and a scientist saying how amazing it was when everything went black as night and the temperature dropped. We just had to take their word for it, though. I suppose they may have cut to the Faroes if there hadn't been cloud cover there, too, but even if they had done it would probably have only been to show what the sun looked like with the moon in the way. Remarkable though that is, the effect on the surface of Earth is definitely something special, though. I would have liked to have seen a few seconds of it on TV.

Whydid I watch the BBC's coverage, then?

Well, yesterday on breakfast TV we were treated to an explanation of how to make a pinhole camera. Here's what to do:
1) Take a large box, maybe 8 inches by 8 inches by 12 inches.
2) Cut a hole in the box at one end.
3) Cut a hole in the box at the opposite end.
4) Put a sheet of aluminium foil at one end of the box, over the hole.
5) Put a plain sheet of white paper at the other end of the box.
6) Poke a pin through the middle of the aluminium foil.

OK, so there's nothing wrong with that. However, this isn't quite what the folks on breakfast TV did. Their step 3) was to cut a hole in the roof of the box. The white paper was nevertheless in the right place, it's just it was stuck to the outside of the box rather than covering a hole in the box onto which the pinhole would be projecting the image. I guess you could have looked through the large hole in the roof to see the image being projected onto the brown cardboard inside, but with so much diffuse light in there I don't expect you'd see much.

So that's why I watched the BBC coverage. It may have been badly edited, but at least the BBC does try to do science.

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