British sky watchers strain through clouds to see eclipse

In the southwest English city of Bristol sky gazers enjoy the solar eclipse but in London cloudy weather spoils the view.

BRISTOL, ENGLAND, UK (MARCH 20, 2015) (ITN) – People across the United Kingdom gathered outdoors to watch a solar eclipse on Friday (March 20), but many were left disappointed by overcast skies in London.

The eclipse was visible in the southern city of Bristol and in Glasgow in Scotland.

Many people had brought along their own homemade pinhole cameras and special glasses so that they could see the event without damaging their eyesight.

Crowds flocked to the Greenwich observatory in South London by the city’s river Thames to try to catch a rare glimpse of an eclipse in Britain.

”Nothing like this has occurred since 1999 and it won’t happen again until 2026 for us here in Europe, but they do occur somewhere on the earth’s surface a few times, every couple of years,” said Tom Kerss, an astronomer at the Greenwich Royal Observatory.

The small audience on Friday contrasted with tens of millions of people who saw the last major eclipse in Europe in 1999. A partial eclipse was visible on Friday mainly in Europe and Russia, and it skimmed parts of north Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Unfortunately for viewers in the capital, cloudy skies spoiled their view of the event.

Malcolm Porter, a keen amateur astronomer told Reuters that despite the poor British weather, the eclipse had fuelled the public’s interest in astronomy.

”As typically in this country, it was cloudy, so we haven’t seen a lot, but what we have seen is an awful lot of interesting people and they want to understand a bit more about the sun and about what the sun is doing and what we should be seeing,” he said.

Tourists, keen astronomers and families gathered on top of a hill outside of the observatory, but the closest thing to the eclipse visible in the area, were pictures from a monitor being used by one of the television crews on the ground.

Many children had taken the morning off from school to see the eclipse and watched the event through special protective glasses.

London resident Elaine Pooke said that despite the poor weather, she had still enjoyed the celestial experience at the observatory.

”And so I came to hopefully see something, which was impossible because of the fog and the clouds, but I came to mix and I made a friend today, so that was cool,” she said.