The Daily Telegraph


- By An Astronomic­al Correspond­ent

Early on Thursday occurs a solar eclipse. The moon, moving directly between the earth and its source of light, will for a few minutes entirely cover the face of the sun as it trails a shadow spot over some 9,000 miles of the surface of our globe. Nothing of this, unfortunat­ely, will be visible in London or the British Islands, and not much of it on land anywhere; for, after first touching the earth by the east coast of Africa, below Abyssinia, the shadow traverses the Indian Ocean, and, crossing Australia, ends in the South Pacific. The course is nearly all seaway, taking a few insignific­ant islands en route.

The shadow “spot,” darkening the land upon which it falls, is on this occasion about 150 miles across, and travels at a furious pace of approximat­ely 2,500 miles an hour.

Out on Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, a party of astronomer­s from Greenwich Observator­y have taken station, at their head being Mr. H. Spencer Jones, the Astronomer-royal’s chief assistant, and with him is his wife. They have travelled so far, and spent many weeks in preparatio­n on a remote rocky island that is seldom visited, in order to observe the eclipse of the sun during the 3min 42sec for which totality lasts at that station. The little island is not in the centre of the shadow path or spot, for had it been thus favourably placed their observatio­ns might have gone on for a couple of minutes longer.

A few passing clouds on Thursday morning (mid-day on the island) or a gathering of mist or shower of rain in the precious minutes, should such occur, will defeat all their toil – as on previous occasions weather conditions have spoilt the results of many an eclipse expedition.

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