Webwatchers avoid cloudy eclipse
Aug 10, 1999
Web sites are providing internet users with the one thing that Cornwall cannot offer - clear skies to view the August 11 eclipse. According to the latest weather reports, Cornwall is expected to be overcast and cloudy. But the BBC is transmitting pictures of the eclipse from an aircraft above the cloudline, and teams of other web users are transmitting video pictures from locations throughout Europe, the Middle East and India that have a higher chance of sunshine. However, the 250 astronomers at the annual Royal Astronomical Society meeting, who will view the eclipse from Fort Albert on the island of Alderney, appear to have picked a better spot than the 450 astrologers attending their annual conference camped out in Cornwall. The astronomers have twice the chance of clear weather than the astrologers.
The European satellite organisation Eumetsat will update pictures every 10 minutes of the Moon's shadow as it rushes across the globe. Meanwhile, the European Space Agency has brought together a wide range of material - including some of the experiments scientists hope to carry out - on their own web site ESA Eclipse99.
Although the eclipse will mainly be seen in Europe, the US space agency NASA has constructed some excellent teaching resources for the web. They have a live webcast and press releases on the eclipse and on some experiments scientists hope to carry out during the eclipse. However, their best page is an extensive list of every expedition, web page and web-broadcasting site on the internet connected with the event.Both the two main UK news organisations also have eclipse webs sites, with ITN having more colourful graphics and the BBC more background information. The official UK government site can be found at Eclipse99.