A gentle kiss

tl;dr - On 10 June 2021 several students of our school were (once more) able to witness a partial solar eclipse. Although the maximum coverage was of only four lousy percent it was a worthy astronomical finale for this school year. Those who missed the celestial spectacle this time will have to wait for more than one and a half years to get the next chance.

On 20 March 2015 a partial solar eclipse was visible over Europe and the students astronomy group 'astrocusanus' tried their best to allow as many students as possible to witness the stunning event. Back then it was a great success and moreover a merry and informal gathering of members of our school community of all ages. So we obviously did not hesitate when sun and moon came to terms to deliver a similar show, right at the end of this school year.

Now it has to be admitted that the two made a questionable choice in favoring the two handful of observers in Northern Greenland during their 2021 performance. But who are we to argue with Mother Nature? We humbly accepted the 4% of coverage they were willing to give us and - when time drew near - yearned for their upcoming gentle kiss.

When noon of 10 June 2021 arrived we were ready. We had set up our little 'solarscope projector' and also a binocular equipped with the dedicated and 100% save solar filters. At 11:40 CEST the clouds stepped aside and we felt how the dissimilar couple, the brilliant sun and the new moon, impishly gazed at us. We were drowning in suspense. But the celestial clockwork did what it is best at: It ran smoothly. At 11:45 we were able to spot the first dint in the otherwise perfect circle of light. 

Now it was our turn! For the next 90 minutes Maximilian Komar (5eR), Johannes Rubner (4aR) and me showed and explained the phenomenon to about 150 students, teachers and passers-by.

Solar astronomers in action

Students waiting for their turn at the binoculars

Three different approaches: Binoculars, projector and telescope

The 2015 crew (below) vs. the 2021 crew (above).
Yes, we wore more googles and less masks.

It was fun, exhausting and worth it. Johannes even headed over to our neighboring school's observatory and took a detailed image through the telescope. It showes the granulation, some tiny sunspots and the irregular relief of the lunar surface against the shiny solar disk. 

The kiss: The moon covers part of the solar disk.
You can see the grainy texture of the disk, the tiny, tiny sunspots at the centre and the irregular silhouette of the moon.
Image by Johannes Rubner

Got your mouth watery enough? Now the bad news: If you, dear reader, did not attend our party today, you will have to wait grief-strickenly until 25 October 2022 to see the next partial eclipse in South Tyrolean skies. However, cheer up! It will not be such a 'lips barely touching thing' as today, but a real and 18+ rated French kind of kiss. 😏🤭

Christof Wiedemair


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