This update was sent out via email to members this morning. It is reproduced here to ensure that members who are not on the email list, or who don’t check their email regularly, are kept informed…
By now everyone should know – from emails, attending meetings, or reading the blog – that we are holding an “Eclipse Watch” down at Abbot Hall Park on the morning of Friday March 20th, to show members of the public, and the media, the eclipse, in safety. Our event will begin at 8.00 in good time for the start of the eclipse at 8.30. By 9.30 the Sun will be over 90% eclipsed for us, and the whole thing will be over just over an hour later.
As it is (to my knowledge) the largest eclipse-watching event being held in Cumbria, there is already a lot of public and media interest in our event. BBC Radio Cumbria will be coming down to broadcast live from the park, and will be promoting it the week before. Our own Dan Beale and John Pye will be there for Lakeland Radio, and The Gazette will be sending down reporters too. There’s even a chance Border TV might come down to film us. Assuming it’s a clear sky – actually, even if it isn’t – we’re in for a busy and exciting morning!
But there is still a lot of planning and preparation to do to ensure our event is the success we all want it to be. Firstly, with time ticking on, I really need to know how many of you are going to come down, and what telescopes/equipment, if any, you’re going to bring with you. I anticipate quite a large number of people will be coming to the park, so we need to have enough members there to ensure no-one has to wait ages for a view of the eclipse. So, if you can come and help on the morning, between 8,00 and 11.00, please do! But take a moment to reply to this email letting me know you’re coming, and telling me what you’re bringing with you to show people the eclipse. Of course, you’re very welcome to come and join us just to *watch* the eclipse, no-one is obligated to show members of the public the eclipse with their telescopes, and we will have solar viewers etc for you to borrow if you just want to see the eclipse. But, as ever, all help will be appreciated.
If you are planning on coming along to show members of the public the eclipse with your equipment, it’s important to take a moment to think, seriously, about the safety aspects of the day. Observing solar eclipses needs special care and attention, and all of us down on the field will have to make absolutely sure that our guests enjoy this amazing event safely. So, everyone helping on the day MUST follow these safety guidelines:
* NO TELESCOPE BEING USED ON THE MORNING MUST BE LEFT UNATTENDED. There will always be someone who looks at an unattended telescope at an event like this and thinks “Oh, they’re busy, I’ll just have a look…” and then they could injure or even blind themselves. So, if you come down with a telescope to observe the eclipse, and to show others, you must stay with it at all times. If you need to leave it – and I know everyone will want to enjoy looking at the eclipse through others’ telescopes and equipment, I know I will! – then you must try and find someone to stay with your telescope for you. If no-one is available, then you must a) swing your telescope well away from the Sun, b) cover it with one of the covers being provided on the day (NOTE: this is another reason why I need to know in advance how many people are coming down to help – I need to know how many covers to buy), and c) place one of the safety signs, also being provided on the day, on it. That way, there will be no risk.
* ALL TELESCOPES AND EQUIPMENT MUST DISPLAY A SAFETY SIGN (above) WHEN IN USE. These will be provided on the day.
* ALL FINDER SCOPES MUST BE EITHER COVERED OR REMOVED. This will ensure no-one hurts themselves if they wander into the path of any stray sunlight finder scopes can project.
* SAFETY MUST BE STRESSED AT ALL TIMES WHEN THE PUBLIC ARE USING OUR EQUIPMENT.
There will be safety signs on display in the park, instructing the public on how to enjoy the event safely…
We will also be giving people safety advice slips.
As an additional layer of safety, EAS Committee member Liz Hodgson has kindly volunteered to be our Safety Officer on the day. During the eclipse, Liz will go around the park ensuring all the above safety guidelines are being followed. She will also be on hand to offer advice and assistance to anyone who needs it. Many thanks to Liz for taking on this important job!
If this all sounds like overkill, it isn’t. It is our responsibility to run a safe event, an event where no-one is put at risk. Observing the Sun takes special care and attention, and there is a real risk of injury to anyone who is not supervised properly. So, while the above guidelines might seem strict, they are what is needed to ensure we run an enjoyable but safe event. I know you will all support them, and follow them, and come along on the Friday morning to watch the eclipse and share it with others!
And importantly, after all that serious stuff – HAVE FUN! Eclipses like this are rare, and if the weather is kind to us we will see something **fantastic** in the sky! If you come and help on the morning that will be great, but I absolutely **insist** you take some time for yourself to just ****LOOK**** at the eclipse without any interruptions, or, trust me, when it is over you will realise that you didn’t really see it at all…
The Eclipse Watch will officially begin at 8.00, but I’ll be down there from 7.30 setting up and co-ordinating all the media people, so I hope to see some of you then!
Finally, this is absolutely the last email which will go out to the old mailing list. As soon as I’ve sent it I will be deleting the old list and making a start on drawing up the new one, which will then be passed on to our new Membership Secretary (thanks Liz!). So, if you STILL haven’t answered my previous emails, you need to as soon as you’ve read this because tomorrow the slate is wiped clean and the new list will come into use.